A PARISH priest who attempted to reform how First Holy Communion sacrament was celebrated in his parish has issued a letter in which he said he regretted any confusion caused and that he wished that his proposals hadn’t become the centre of a “media frenzy”.
Fr Tom Little sparked controversy last week when he told his parishioners in Askea, Bennekerry and Tinryland that they wouldn’t have a specific date for their children’s First Holy Communion, that the children would have to receive their First Communion at any regular Sunday Mass next May and that they had to become more proactive in bringing the youngsters to Mass. Fr Little laid out his plans at a series of meetings held in the parish with the parents but they reacted so strongly against it that the long-serving priest was forced to back down to a certain extent and explain his motivation for the proposed changes.
He said that he had wanted Communion day to be less about the commercial aspect of the celebration and more about the spiritual side of the sacrament. “The emphasis seems to be on celebrating the BIG DAY rather then forming a spiritual relationship with Jesus …I am convinced that each child likes to go to Mass and would like to be more involved,” Fr Little said in a letter that was sent out to the parents.
The Nationalist featured the story last Tuesday, sparking a national debate about how commercial the Holy Communion day had become and about how much parents should get involved in nurturing their children’s religious beliefs. By Wednesday, however, Fr Little was compelled to write a letter to the parents in his parish, explaining his reasoning. In it, he claimed that the initial meetings with parents were to discuss the Holy Communion programme and not to set dates for each school to hold their First Holy Communion day. He continued that “at the meeting, I stated that the First Holy Communion practice does not seem to be working, as the children are not being brought to regular Mass”.