Pricey First Communion

Parents in Ireland spend €1,000 (= $1,428) on average on their child’s First Communion. And that’s a decline from a couple years ago since the economic downturn.


  1. This is (or was) more of a Dublin phenomenon than outside Dublin. In Dublin, the customer is to take the child to visit all the relatives, who give cash. The big, the only, question in school on Monday is how much did you make. Non-Dubliners disapprove.
    Confirmation was always a let down because even tho’ you’re older, the ‘take’ is smaller.
    I don’t know if it’s an urban myth but one nouveau riche father had a remote control ‘light up’ tiara and when his First Holy Communicant daughter received, he pressed the button to light up the tiara.

  2. Ceile De,
    Your first comment is not exactly true . In rural Ireland we have had similar problems with the cost of 1st Communion and to a lesser extent confirmation.

    Your second comment has to do with the Travellers. These pictures would not happen with the settled community. Indeed none of the travellers that received sacraments in the parishes I worked in would dress in such fashion.
    There is a simple solution to this problem. We have to take sacraments out of the schools and have them in the parishes.
    What we have today is a conveyor belt for the sacraments. Everyone receives them regardless of the practice level of the family. If we followed other countries we would have less of the big spenders because we would have those children who come from some sort of practising family. I doubt the majority of the big spenders would want to go to Sunday school for a year or two in preparation for the sacraments.

  3. Ceile De :
    I don’t know if it’s an urban myth but one nouveau riche father had a remote control ‘light up’ tiara and when his First Holy Communicant daughter received, he pressed the button to light up the tiara.

    Apparently they’re going to do the same thing when the Pope restores the wearing of the Papal tiara.

  4. I am in Hispanic Ministry. I would not doubt that a good number of the parents here spend $1,000 or more on their child’s First Communion. After all, they spend $8,000-12,000 on a quinceanera (15-year-old girl’s coming-of-age party). Even a baptism is expensive. After all, what is a sacrament without the party afterwards? But the nice thing is that I get to eat some good Mexican food most weekends!

  5. Jonathan,

    Where I live, the Hispanic community often folds the baptism, first communion, and confirmation parties all into one, by having their children receive all 3 sacraments at the same time, namely, the Easter Vigil. Thus, we see 8 year old Hispanic children being confirmed while their Anglo friends wait until high school. The only reason I’ve ever been offered for this is that ‘it’s a cultural thing’ related to the expense of the parties being thrown. That bothers me a lot, because I can’t’ see us being one church if we have two sets of rules for sacraments based on where your parents came from or what language they speak at home.

    1. We have had that here, too, but not for party reasons. Rather, a child of catechetical age (7+) will often be put through the Rite of Christian Initiation for Children (RCIC). And such a child will be confirmed and receive their First Communion all at once, just like an adult who is baptized. And thought I find Hispanics seem more likely to ‘forget’ to baptize their kids for 7-15 years after birth (oy!), it is a problem that affects the Anglos, too.

      But, then, that depends on the local bishop’s rules regarding confirmation. However, the child baptized at or after the usual age for First Communion will surely do both at once.

      1. Why should a child baptized after the usual age for First Communion ‘surely’ do both at once?

        I understand that the adults do all of them at once, and I don’t have any issues with the children catching up to their age-mates. It’s the jumping ahead that irks me, for a couple of reasons. In no particular order, they are: it draws out the Easter Vigil a good bit more, and usually with the effect of breaking the atmosphere [in 2010 we got to watch a girl of about 6 scream in terror of the water, eventually held forcibly in the pool, yep, she’ll likely be a devout attendee. . .]; and it creates a degree of aggravation among the kids who were baptized as infants and wait until high school for confirmation as 10th graders [soon to be 8th, I hear, but the complaint will just start from the other end]. One can dismiss the grumpings of adolescents easily enough as mere grumpings, but their complaints aren’t all without merit, since they use as a confirmation text the same book that the Catholic high schools here use for 9th grade religion classes. Arguments that they’re using the book for a different purpose fall on utterly deaf ears, I assure you.

        For me personally, the extension and disruption of the Vigil is the more immediate one, but I see the other as potentially more disruptive to the community as a whole. Even discounting the kids’ annoyance, it’s a missed opportunity to bring them together in preparation for the sacraments.

        You say it’s a problem that affects the Anglos, too. In an absolute sense, I agree, although I think I’ve seen exactly OCIC one child in the last 4 or 5 years who did not appear to be of Hispanic origins. And, again from what I’m told by those who work in the ministry, it’s not a matter of the parents ‘forgot’ to have the child baptized. It’s quite deliberate and driven by secular desire.

        Still looking for a plausible justification for two sets of rules [within one rite, even!]. If I don’t fine one, I…

  6. Lynn Thomas :
    I can’t’ see us being one church if we have two sets of rules for sacraments based on where your parents came from or what language they speak at home.

    That was the same kind of reason people were giving pre-Summorum Pontificum as to why the Pope wouldn’t do it!

    Having “more than one church” seems to suit this pontificate just fine!

    1. What are the different rules for the sacraments between the two forms of Mass? Those who attend the EF around here seem to receive the sacraments at the same time as everyone else in the OF of the Latin Rite.

      And technically there is more than one church – there are the Eastern rites, for example, who observe practices and rules far more different from the standard OF than those who attend the Latin Mass. Unity doesn’t mean uniformity.

      1. Out of your own mouth, as usual, Jack Wayne, you’re condemned!

        Different rites are not different churches – no one ever said so.

        Two forms, however, of one rite (a thing hitherto unheard of) has made two churches.

        You can bellyache all you like, but that’s just what’s happened.

        And the fact that the new church, that’s been fabricated out of an abrogated rite, caters to a very tiny (and vocal )minority, doesn’t change the reality.

      2. I brought up the other rites (the Eastern Churches, which are “different churches” in a sense, though still part of the Catholic Church) because some people seem to think having variety between groups causes disunity – it doesn’t. The difference between the OF and EF isn’t as big as the difference between some of the other rites within the Church. Also, I think some of the Eastern Churches use more than one liturgy during the course of the year – if they can handle that, then we should be able to handle the OF and EF and some variety between ethnic groups too.

        Your logic makes no sense, but if you want to think you got me, then fine.

      3. Jack,

        I’m not interested in condemning you [and I know your response wasn’t directed at me anyway], and I will sing in perfect harmony with you that “Unity doesn’t mean uniformity”. However, I maintain that using two sets of rules as I have described at the very least fails to foster unity even if it doesn’t _actively_ generate disunity. We actually have enough of that already with the language barrier. And, please keep in mind that my context is that of one parish, not an Eastern rite parish here and a Roman rite one there.

        Based on what I have seen of the OCIC implementation, and what I’ve been told about its reasoning, I think it’s a poor way to go about it. I think that children who are ‘behind’ on the sacraments should catch up to their age mates and then join the process with them. It brings the students together when they might not otherwise have opportunity, and it gives ‘us’ a longer time for catechesis, since we can’t assume they’ll keep coming to church, let alone religious ed after they’re confirmed.

        Or just confirm them all at age 8 and be done with it.. . .

      4. I think there should be unity on some things – I was mostly replying to Chris, who obsessively has to irrationally smack down Summorum Pontificum and the EF in almost every comment thread he participates in regardless of whether the comments have anything to do with it. The time people receive the sacraments does create disunity since people are so transient now and the ages are not standard even between different diocese.

        I was behind on the sacraments and for while had to attend CCD with kids who were not behind – meaning I was preparing for confirmation without any preparation for first communion. I hated it because I wanted to be able to receive like everyone else my age, but nobody seemed to want to do anything about it. It wasn’t until we moved that our new parish’s priest took me aside – he instructed me individually and allowed me to receive first communion when I was eleven.

        I’m somewhat of the mind that we should restore the original order of the sacraments and do them when people are babies like the Eastern Christians do.

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