A friend of mine brought this to my attention recently and she and I would like some feedback here on this situation as it is troubling to both of us. Our children attend the same Catholic school. Recently, the school has been recruiting heavily from outside of the faith in order to maintain numbers—not untypical in this diocese. The majority are still Catholic but there has been an influx. All students attend weekly Mass. When it comes time for Eucharist, students who have either not received their First Communion or who are not Catholic come up, arms across chest, for a blessing. However, three of the new middle school students, who have shared with their classmates that they are not Catholic (nor of a faith that could receive Communion in a Catholic church), have been receiving Communion since coming to the school this year. At first, we thought maybe it couldn’t be true, until her child shared that during a recent Reconciliation service, these students were pulled from the rest of the group and seated elsewhere so as not to go to Confession. So it’s obvious the teachers know as well. As Catholics who believe that is the Body and Blood of Christ, this is alarming.
This is a very small school and this class in particular has only 10 kids. So the teachers should know if they’re receiving Communion. The pastor knows all the kids in the school, as does the principal. Other middle school students who are not Catholic are instructed to go up arms crossed against their chests for blessings. We have a suspicion as to “why” these students may be doing this, and why people might be turning a blind eye to it—the parents of these students are the new “A+ parents” in the school because they are seen as having the ability to bring in more families, so the principal is bending over backwards to keep them happy and we suspect if she had to call them out on it, there might be fallout. We’ve noticed this all year with new families she’s brought in—discipline, rules, and recognition are different for certain families and students, depending on how much she feels the need to “keep them happy.”
***An important dynamic to note as well: *** The principal is not someone the other parent nor I (nor a lot of people) have any trust or confidence in. If you look up the definition of a narcissist or a manipulative bully, it describes our experiences. Unfortunately, she’s managed to charm our priest (whose been there less than a year, likeable on the surface, thus popular with many people), and the diocese into believing she is the greatest thing since slice bread. So no one can speak up against her without being dismissed. The priest has even told me he LOVES her and she is CREDIBLE and he doesn’t care what she’s said or done to hurt me, my child, or others. Bringing this to her attention would results in a number of lies, twisted truths, and the wrath on anyone who dared to speak (I am not exaggerating—there are horror stories). She can act with impunity.
Questions: My friend is the one who discovered this, so she’d like to bring this up with the priest.
Is her place to say anything, going on the assumption that he doesn’t know? Or is this none of anyone else’s business?
If she approaches him, how do you recommend that she do this? I suggested she bring it to him as a **confidential matter ** (the priest has a history of running to the principal, rather than dealing with things discreetly) so that he is obligated to maintain her confidentiality (so her child does not get punished). I suggested she phrase it as a question to help her and her child understand why there appears to be an exception.
Last question—if a Catholic school principal and a priest are knowingly allowing non-Catholics to receive Communion, in order to not make them feel “different”—what should be done?
For the record, this is nothing against the children personally–they’re nice kids. It’s not about the families per se, either. This is a matter of feeling like our faith and our beliefs are being sold out in order to “grow the numbers.” The principal is the weakest principal we’ve had in terms of understanding Catholic education (she’s a retired public school admin)—it would not surprise me if she, herself, believes the Eucharist is only symbolic. Yet they removed a true Catholic principal—one who truly believed in Catholic education in order to place her in the role, because she has rich friends who donate a lot to the parish and school. However, I would think that allowing non-Catholics to receive Communion in order “not to stand out” from their class would be crossing a line. I kept my peace last year when they “made an exception” for a new student to be trained and serve as an altar server, despite not having made her first Communion yet, because they “caught her up fast” (she was in 6th). I’ve kept my peace they’ve given the majority of the Mass participation roles to non-Catholics–like readings, gift bearers, etc. . (at least the non-Catholics have not yet been allowed to become altar servers). But knowingly allowing non-Catholics to receive Communion crosses a huge line with me.
Thankfully, we’re out of the school in June (my child will be going elsewhere next year, thanks to the nonsense—I know I made the right decision, and yet I weep that it came to this). On the fence with the parish (even though it’s been my parish home for 41 years). Any advice you have and any prayers are welcome. We all need peace.