HSE advises the Archdiocese of Cashel-Emly to postpone communions and confirmations
Archbishop of Cashel-Emly Kieran O’Reilly called a letter from the HSE recommending that the diocese postpone First Communion and confirmations until September, to help curb the spread of Covid-19, as “disappointing”.
Archbishop O’Reilly also cautioned parents in the diocese against holding communion or confirmation parties at home for people outside their immediate family.
A letter signed by Dr Rose Fitzgerald, director of the Mid West Department of Public Health, was sent to the Dioceses of Cashel-Emily, Limerick and Killaloe on Tuesday, stating: “We believe these ceremonies should be postponed from September. . 2021, due to the current high rate of Covid-19 infection in the Midwest region, [and that], by September, most eligible people should be fully vaccinated against Covid ”.
The department has received “questions regarding the holding of First Communion and Confirmation ceremonies during the summer period in the Limerick, Clare and North Tipperary area,” according to the letter.
A letter from the Diocese of Cashel-Emly to local clergy, parents, guardians and school principals explains the HSE position. Archbishop O’Reilly, in this letter, states that he acknowledges that “ceremonies are already scheduled” and that the HSE recommendation “is disappointing at this time”.
Archbishop O’Reilly does not say the ceremonies should be postponed, but says the HSE recommendation should be seriously considered. He adds that “it is difficult to come up with a comprehensive directive” because there are a variety of ecclesiastical situations in the archdiocese.
More than 500 cases have been identified in the Midwest in the past two weeks.
The number of daily cases in Limerick has dropped significantly, after an increase in cases last month. Tuesday 16 cases were identified in Limerick, against 74 cases on June 6.
A spokesperson for Public Health Mid West said churches are generally safe environments, indoor gatherings associated with communions and confirmations are considered high risk for unvaccinated people.
A spokesperson for the Diocese of Killaloe said they have disseminated the HSE advice to all parishes and they expect parishes to consult with schools before making a final decision on postponing communions or confirmations.
“The parishes will be happy to facilitate the wishes of parents in these matters and to suggest alternatives if necessary.
“The final decision as to whether the sacraments will be celebrated during the summer will be made in the context of the local parish in consultation with the families of the candidates, after having been informed of the HSE recommendations and having taken into consideration the local circumstances.”