‘The days of the big hoo-ha are gone’ for Holy Communions

By Maurice Garvey

THE days of the big Communions and Confirmations “hoo-ha are gone” due to the social distancing implications of Covid-19.

Bull in a China shop style, Covid-19 laid waste to plans for thousands of kids across the county many of whom were supposed to have celebrated their big day during the pandemic.

CHERRY ORCHARD compressor

St Mark’s parish church in Springfield

The current situation is that individual parishes and schools will make the decision when and how to host 2020 Communions and Confirmations – likely between August and mid-October with some taking place on weekdays.

Social distancing guidelines permit a maximum of 50 persons in a church, so big family gatherings at the ceremony are out, as are choirs.

This means only four people – including the child – can attend sacraments. Spare a thought for families where either the Godfather or Godmother will be cut from attending the Communion ceremony.

For Confirmations, it will be parents, one sponsor and the candidate.

Some parishes, such as Cherry Orchard, plan to host three separate ceremonies in August to cater for smaller groups.

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Sophia Duff on what should have been her Communion day in May

The Archdiocese of Dublin acknowledge the guidance they have issued to parishes is not a “one size fits all”, as it will depend of the size of the church, the numbers of kids involved and availability of priests, many of whom are elderly and considered vulnerable to covid.

They suggested parishes have up-to-date lists of names and addresses of parents so they can be contacted in the weeks and months ahead.  

“I am very clear, we are committed to doing Sacraments but the bottom line is we still have no idea of the how and when – realistically it could be September before we start,” Fr Pat McKinley, parish of St Marks, Springfield.

On Monday, Fr McKinley wrote a letter to all 11 parishes in Tallaght noting that resources “vary considerably from parish to parish” and each parish will have to make its own arrangements.

“The days of the big hoo-ha are gone,” said Fr McKinley.

“Small ceremonies will be on top of day services and the full-time job of a priest. Some people have no idea what we do. In the last couple of weeks, it has gone from quiet to manic.”

The letter asks parishes to come up with a plan, and post the relevant information on their public platforms.

Over in Cherry Orchard parish, Fr Michael Murtagh said they plan to host Sacraments over consecutive three weeks in August.

“It will affect Confirmations and Communions but will carve it up into three separate sessions. Basically, four family members including a child. Families will have to make these decisions, like a funeral. For the most part, parents are happy that this is happening.”

The Archdiocese are keen not to rush ceremonies, which form an “important milestone in a child’s faith life.”

 “In the future, the celebration of Confirmation will be very much the responsibility of each parish and not simply of the school. 

“The current pandemic will be an interesting occasion for us to come to understand exactly the level of responsibility that will be falling on parishes in the future and the need to build up teams of volunteer catechists in each parish,” they said.

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