The ‘one big day and that’s it‘ approach to First Communion for children is set to end in Ireland’s largest diocese.
Instead Dublin archdiocese is to move to a parish-and-family led model of preparation, in which children approaching first-communion age will be registered directly with parishes by families. Parish clergy, parish workers and families will then together engage in preparation of the communicant for first and ongoing communion, with the support of the school.
Dublin’s Director of Mission and Ministry, Patricia Carroll, said that this model ‘was emerging out of the pandemic experience where parents gave positive feedback about the prayerfulness of smaller group celebrations and the engagement of families’.
Ms Carroll acknowledged that training and preparation of parishes for this challenge will be difficult but that the change is necessary to achieve ‘a more sustainable journey with families’.
As yet, as far as is known, no other diocese has yet formally adopted the same policy, but in August 2021 the Irish Association of Catholic Priests stated that school-reliant faith formation was no longer ‘fit for purpose’.
The Dublin change of policy is announced in Accompanying Families: Sacraments of Initiation Policy Dublin 2022, in which Archbishop Dermot Farrell declares that an experimental small group approach to first communion had been “highly valued, making for a more prayerful personal experience”.
“The key features of this (new policy) are an emphasis on accompanying families towards the celebration of the Sacraments in a sustainable way, a stronger focus on Baptism as the beginning of a life-long journey of faith, and clarity about the roles of family, parish, school and Archdiocese working in partnership.”
For those with access the Irish Catholic report on this Dublin initiative can be read here.