BY Peter Diamond | July 12 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

Zachary Ross Bush smiles as he and other children process after receiving their first Communion May 5, 2019, at St. Mary Church in Schwenksville, Pa. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

First communion costs in Scotland contrast with irish extravagance

Spending on First Communions in Scotland remains relatively modest in contrast to ballooning cost in Ireland, according to two priests from contrasting parts of the country.

Last week, a study by Ulster Bank revealed that First Communions in Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland have reached an average of €929 (£729).


Controlled spending

However, parents in Scotland appear to be more constrained in their spending.

Fr Thomas Hendry is parish priest at St Teresa of Lisieux Church in Possilpark, one of the most deprived areas of the country, while Fr Jock Dalrymple is parish priest of St John the Evangelist’s Church in the relatively affluent Portobello.

Fr Hendry said: “We made it compulsory for all the children to wear white cloaks over their outfit as they make their First Communion.

“It’s not really a dressing up event or a fashion contest, which I think most people realise because I’ve never had to have an argument with a parent about it.

“One of the Franciscan nuns here, Sr Mary Loyola, helped make 40 or 50 white cloaks for the First Communicants about 20 years ago and each year they are laundered and reused for the occasion. It’s been a great thing in the parish.”


Helping families

He added: “My perception is that often grannies or aunties volunteer to buy a part of the outfit or day but if anyone needed help we would always try and assist them.

“This area often gets bad press but parents here care about their children as much as anyone else would.”


Ireland’s costs

In the Republic of Ireland children pocket from as much as £719 from friends and family as gifts, according to the Ulster Bank study.

In Northern Ireland an average of £729 is spent on the milestone event, an increase of £160 on the 2018 figure.

Children making their First Communion in the North pocketed an average of £345 from family and friends, up £17 on the 2018 figure.


‘Prayerful and devout’

Fr Dalrymple said First Communions in his parish this year were ‘prayerful and devout.’

“I got a sense that few went over the top either at the Mass or at celebrations afterwards,” he said.

“Perhaps it’s because we have lots of different nationalities: some are immigrants from abroad so maybe there is less money.”


Discouraging extravagance

He added: “The Church definitely should discourage extravagant splurges on First Communions. However, we let the children and their families decide what to wear therefore it’s a diverse range of outfits, but I’ve not heard of anything too costly.”

Both priests’ main concerns over First Communions were the lack of commitment to attending Church after making the Sacrament.

Fr Dalrymple said: “I’ve found the mindset of parents more focused towards the Sacrament this year and attending Mass with their child, however there is a still a sense that it is not really followed through and that they take ‘summer off.’

“We’ve been trying to ensure the continuation of children’s liturgy throughout the holidays and perhaps there is some value in exploring whether to move the date of communions to earlier in the year.”


Mass attendance

Fr Hendry added: “My big problem here is trying to get people to follow up their First Communion by coming back to Mass regularly.

“We have the two schools together on the one day which makes it simpler and I tell the parents ‘This is the beginning of their spiritual life’ but often it doesn’t have much impact and there very quickly is a drop off in numbers attending.”

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