A 'New Approach' Will See Parishes Prepare Children For Sacraments Instead Of School

A consultation has taken place throughout the Archdiocese in an effort “to strengthen the bond between family, parish and schools in preparing children for sacraments”, according to Archbishop Diarmuid Martin.

The move will be one of the first to significantly separate Church and State. 

The Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin has announced “significant” changes aimed at moving the focus of sacramental preparation away from schools and towards family and parishes.

This follows a consultation process held earlier this year which found a widespread desire among parishioners and catechists for a shift in responsibility from schools to parish. 

The move will see sacramental preparations take place outside of school hours and school locations. 

At present, the primary responsibility for preparing children for Catholic sacraments lies with teachers and schools. 

According to RTÉ, the archdiocese's Priests Council has endorsed what they are deeming "a new approach", which will in time see parishes assuming responsibility for the preparation and celebration of all four sacraments; Baptism, Penance, First Communion and Confirmation.

In a letter, he wrote to priests and parishes informing them of the Priests Council proposal, Archbishop Martin said that training for the reform campaign, which will be implemented on a phased basis, should begin immediately.

“At the heart of the proposal is to stress the primary role of families in sacramental preparation. It also advocates a renewed relationship with Catholic schools in promoting Catholic ethos and in delivering the Grow in Love programme,” Martin wrote in his letter. 

“We must remember too that more and more Catholic children today attend other than Catholic schools. The proposal is not something that will be accomplished overnight. It cannot, however, be put forever on the long finger. We must begin now.”

The archdiocese said that they now plan to establish an implementation group "to look at a range of issues around the proposal" including, providing resources and finance, encouraging volunteers and communicating with parents. 

Further attempts to separate Church and State have been blocked repeatedly by governmental parties as a result of strong backlash from Catholic-based groups. 

The Provision of Objective Sexual Education Bill, fronted by TDs Paul Murphy, Bríd Smyth and Ruth Coppinger passed the second parliamentary stage in April 2018 and has, ever since, been blocked from reaching the Dáil stage. 

It guarantees the right of students to receive factual and objective relationships and sexuality education regardless of a school's ethos.

As it stands, the current system, which is understood to be some 20 years old, offers no education on safe internet use or support or information regarding LGBTQ+ matters.

Speaking of the importance of the Bill's passing, Noeline Blackwell told Irish Tatler"We need a better understanding of consent from an early age."

"You can teach a three-year-old how to have respect for themselves or others. We are failing our young people by not educating them in a manner that is appropriate. 

"We don't want our children obtaining incorrect information from the internet. We need to give children an idea of what consent looks like," she continues. 

"It's simply not enough to say 'I want them to grow up innocent'."

READ MORE: The Irish Primary Schools That Transfer From Catholic to Multi-Denominational This Week

READ MORE: History To Be Made A Compulsory Subject For Secondary School Students

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