'No plans' to move sacraments' preparation out of Cork schools, despite Dublin move

'No plans' to move sacraments' preparation out of Cork schools, despite Dublin move
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Despite moves to significantly change how children prepare for their first communion and other sacraments, there are no plans yet to introduce similar changes in schools in Cork.

This comes as the Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin described how the sacrament of communion has “drifted away into commercialism”.

Archbishop Martin announced that the diocese of Dublin plans to move the focus on preparing for children's first confessions, communions and confirmations out of schools.

The proposals, which follow consultations with families, clergy and teachers, instead asks parishes and families to take on the responsibility for preparing, and celebrating, all four of the sacraments.

However, there are no "immediate plans" to follow suit in the Diocese of Cork and Ross, a spokesman for the diocese confirmed.

The announcement by Archbishop Martin is the result of an extensive consultation in his diocese, he added.

"In the Diocese of Cork and Ross newly appointed Bishop Fintan Gavin continues with his first priority - namely to become familiar with the people entrusted to his pastoral care and the new pastoral reality."

"How best to prepare for and celebrate these sacraments may emerge as something requiring attention in the diocese. However, this discussion will take time and there are no immediate plans to change the current programme," he added.

The consultation process carried out by the Dublin Diocese found a strong consensus for changing the current approach to getting students ready for the sacraments.

While a child's first communion is a family event, it is slipping away from what is fundamentally a religious celebration, according to Archbishop Martin.

"It's a family event. It's something that children will remember for all of their lives but it's also drifting away into commercialism," he told RTÉ.

"I saw an advertisement for a communion dress for €800," he said, adding that he hopes people will remember the meaning behind the event through working with their parish.

Research published last summer found that families' spending on communions hit an eight-year high in 2019, with parents now spending on average €929 on the event. This was an 8% increase from 2018.

In a letter to priests and parishes this week, Archbishop Martin said the proposals centre on parents sharing their faith with their children, and in time parishes will take on the responsibility of preparing and celebrating all four sacraments; baptism, confession, communion and confirmations.

"We must remember too that more and more Catholic children today attend other than Catholic schools. The proposal is not something that will be accomplished overnight," he said. "It cannot however be put forever on the long finger. It will take some time to put in place an effective development of parish capacity to implement this initiative."

"We need however to begin immediately with the preparation and training of voluntary lay catechists and the development of resource materials.”

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