Priest: Communion must not become 'an orgy of materialism'

Parents must not reduce their child’s First Holy Communion to “an orgy of materialism with miniature brides”.

Fr Paddy O’Kane, who is a parish priest in Derry City, said many children did not return to Mass after receiving the sacrament, thus too often making their First Communion their last.

Fr O’Kane, who has just returned to Ballymagroarty parish after a five-month pastoral sabbatical in the US, said parents opted into the childhood sacrament for a variety of reasons.

These included “a natural expression of their Catholic identity or “a meaningful spiritual celebration”.

Others did so “because everyone else is doing it” or simply because they want “to throw a party”.

“Perhaps [First Communion]...is a harmless tradition keeping them in a club which for all its flaws, they’d rather remain part of,” said Fr O’Kane via the parish website.

“Or they don’t want their child singled out as different. Or they just want to throw a party,” he added.

“Then it’s reduced to an orgy of sentimentality and materialism with miniature brides and bouncy castles and bursting bank accounts,” he said.

The Inishowen-born priest has written to the parents of children making their First Holy Communion in his parish next Saturday, June 3.

Fr O’Kane reminds them that when they had their children baptised, they made a promise to bring them up in the Catholic faith.

“Simply put, you must bring him or her back to Mass again every weekend after his or her First Communion,” the priest wrote.

He said that a “reverential silence” would also be expected during Mass.

In 2015, Fr O’Kane revealed that of the 121 children who made their First Communion in his parish that year, just 20 returned to Mass the following Sunday.

At that time, he said that priests in the Derry Diocese were looking at ways to end the schools ‘production line’ to the sacrament in favour of an ‘opt-in’ approach for families.


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