A Co Donegal priest has said one of the reasons he will be holding his first communions this weekend is because he fears an increase in Covid-19 infections in the coming weeks.
Father John Joe Duffy of St Michael’s Church in Creeslough will celebrate First Communion with 18 students from two local schools.
It will be one of the first churches to give the green light for the sacraments despite government directives against such religious events.
“Personally, I think September will lead to an increase in the virus. We will be entering the flu season and the government is already talking about having to give the population vaccination reminders, ”said Father Duffy.
“I think now, during the summer months, is one of the safest times to hold communions and confirmations. This is one of the many reasons I have for moving forward with Communions after the Bishop of Raphoe, Alan McGuckian, said it was good to do so. “
Father Duffy was supported by parents from local schools including those at Scoil Mhuire National School and Glassan National School.
He noted the fact that large gatherings had been taking place for several weeks now and claimed that the government was in many ways “anti-church” in not allowing communions and confirmations.
“We will have 40,000 people at Croke Park for All-Ireland and I really like GAA. But how can the government say it’s safe but that a small gathering in a church among children who are probably already playing together is not? he said.
“If you break it down, the majority of people will be parents and the majority of them are already vaccinated and there are no plans to vaccinate people between the ages of eight and 12 anyway.
“The government’s arguments just ignore it and I think the church has simply been ignored when the majority of other sectors of our society are allowed to move forward.”
He rejected suggestions that after Communion parties in homes could lead to the spread of the virus. Families would simply return home for family celebrations with godparents and grandparents, he said.
Referring to the recent controversy over a rally of political figures at the Merrion Hotel, Father Duffy added: Government confidence. Clarification would then be given in retrospect and all would be well. “
Last week, tánaist Leo Varadkar apologized for attending the event, which was attended by around 50 people. While the government issued “clarified” guidelines on the gatherings afterwards, Mr. Varadkar denied that they had been updated due to the controversy.
The mother of five boys, Treasa McFadden, whose eight-year-old son Mark will make his communion on Sunday, said she had no issues with the conduct of the ceremony.
“There are already 50 people allowed in churches for General Masses, so I just don’t see what the problem is. The vast majority of them are vaccinated and many children are already playing together. I really don’t think the government has given it enough thought, ”she said.
“I look forward to fellowship and confirmations and I know Father John Joe and the church will ensure that all guidelines are followed.
“We will be getting together as a family at the house and there will certainly not be a big party as we are very aware of the guidelines and take care of the safety of our children,” she added.
Noreen Sheridan has a busy month with her nine-year-old daughter Cassie, who makes her communion this weekend, while her son Michael confirms on August 29.
“I really don’t think the government has given enough credit to ordinary people. We’ve been living with Covid for last year so we all know the guidelines. . . We will not put our families at risk. I just think there are so many contradictions in these guidelines, ”she said.
“These children have already suffered and sacrificed so much. I don’t think the government has taken into account the effect of canceling such opportunities on their mental health, ”she added.