Msgr John Byrne PP Portlaoise
A survey that revealed a desire for sacrament preparation outside the classroom won't bring much change locally, according to Portlaoise's Parish Priest.
Msgr John Byrne said the parish had unsuccessfully tried in the past to separate school and sacraments.
"It wasn't pleasing anybody. Quite a number of years ago we tried to break the link between the schools and the sacraments. There were a number of years that we didn’t have specific school sacraments, we had a number of sacrament days and parents were free to enrol their child on any day they wished.
“That seemed like a great idea and it seems to be something that is in that survey. It wasn’t appreciated really by parents and it wasn’t appreciated by the schools either and it just wasn’t pleasing anybody.
“We did modify that, that made quite a stir at the time. We modified it because it was clear that it just wasn’t working for anybody.
“Over many years here we have been doing our best to break the strict link with the school and many of the things that are being talked about we have in place.
“At the beginning of every year, we invite parents to enrol their child and in enrolling their child then they are enrolling them in a preparation programme which we organise with the parents.
“There certainly has to be a movement away and parishes have to step up to the plate to get involved in a preparation programme and we would dearly wish that parents and all the families who enrol their child would perhaps take it more seriously than some do.
“It needs to be a bit of a team effort between the families, the parish and the schools and I think that’s what it needs to be,” he said.
The Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin, which includes Laois as part of the Dioceses of Kildare and Leighlin, completed a survey revealing a demand for parents and parishes to play a greater role in preparing children for sacraments.
The findings are contained in a sacrament review group survey of 1,800 school principals, teachers, parents, parishioners, clergy and parish workers in the archdiocese covering Dublin and Wicklow and parts of Laois, Carlow, Offaly, Kildare and Wexford.
The survey has found that potential changes could result in an ‘opt-in’ approach with the bulk of preparation taking place outside of school hours.
Over 380 children will receive their First Communion in Portlaoise parish this year. Msgr Byrne said they will review the process to reflect on it and identify any changes that may be needed going forward.