Parishes in the Republic will be able to celebrate First Holy Communion and Confirmation from July 5 under new Government guidelines.
There has been disappointment in parishes in the Republic that the ceremonies could not go ahead, despite the fact that the celebrations are happening north of the border.
The Irish Catholic understands that officials in the Department of the Taoiseach have now confirmed to Church leaders that the much-anticipated sacred events can now take place from early next month with social distancing requirements and other limits on attendance continuing.
Bishop of Meath Tom Deenihan welcomed the move as an important step forward for both parish communities and families.
“I welcomed it,” he told The Irish Catholic. “It was much anticipated and the diocesan office phone has been hopping with people looking for dates.”
Caution will continue to be the watchword with Covid-19 guidelines remaining in place. Bishop Deenihan said that parishes “appreciate that protocols have to be adhered to…Confirmations will be going ahead in Meath from July 5 with attendance limited to students, their parents/guardians and their sponsors.
“This is an important step in the resumption of full participation in the liturgical life of the Church,” the bishop said.
The Irish Catholic understands that in some dioceses, the bishop will plan on being present to administer the Sacrament of Confirmation. In other dioceses, this responsibility will be delegated to parish priests to officiate at the ceremony.
When it comes to First Holy Communion, the Masses will also have limited attendance so larger schools will see ceremonies spread out rather than all the children receiving their First Communion at the same Mass.
It is understood that the Government will continue to discourage large social gatherings after the ceremonies. However, with more venues opening and an increased vaccine rollout Government officials felt July was the right time to give the go ahead for the ceremonies.