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Parents, parishes should have greater role in sacrament prep, Dublin survey says
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A survey in the Archdiocese of Dublin suggests that parents and educators are interested in changing the model of sacramental preparation for children.
Dublin, Ireland, (CNA) - "Ireland is unique in its dependence on schools in preparing for and celebrating the sacraments," said a spokeswoman for the Dublin Archdiocese, according to the Irish Times.
"Parishes are becoming more involved and there are some efforts to involve parents more. But in the survey, all express dissatisfaction that it is still largely a school event. Schools themselves feel that they are still working in a vacuum," she said.
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin created the Sacraments Review Group in September 2018. It was established to listen to the people most involved with sacrament formation, including parents, clergy, and pastoral workers.
This week, Archdiocese of Dublin released results of a survey conducted of 1800 religious, clergy, parents, parishioners, and teachers. The participants expressed a desire for a transition from the school-led sacrament preparation to more formation based in the family and church.
"The survey asked about future practice in relation to the preparation and celebration of the sacraments. The responses seem to register a strong desire among schools for the home and parish to step up to the plate," read a May 15 statement from the archdiocese.
Some programs have already been put into place to boost parental and parish involvement, such as Do This In Memory Of Me and Grow in Love.
In the nine months prior to a child's First Communion, Do This In Memory Of Me encourages more Mass participation as a family, including special Masses held once a month. The program also has First Communion resources to help parents educate their children.
Grow in Love began in 2015 to introduce more parish and priest engagement with the spiritual formation of students at Catholic Primary Schools. Among other things, the program includes prayer services, priestly visits to the school, and a 10-theme curriculum.
The next step of the survey is to meet with its participants and brainstorm about future options. Among the considerations that will be discussed is the best way to engage parents of different backgrounds, Catholics and non-Catholics.
Currently, Catholic schools have 30 minutes a day set aside for sacrament preparation. The archdiocese has considered creating an "opt in" approach, in which more initiative is required to participate, and much of the preparation would be outside of normal school hours.
Teachers and religious leaders have expressed concern that sacramental preparation in schools currently treats the sacraments as more of a social event rather than something spiritually important.
Archbishop Martin issued a video in February encouraging Catholics to participate in the survey. He pointed to a change in the Irish culture and a need to reassess the Church's engagement with the sacraments of initiation: baptism, confirmation, and holy communion.
"Ireland is changing and Ireland religious culture is changing, and we have to see how in the developing the Irish religious culture, we prepare people for the sacraments," he said.
"The sacraments are not conveyor belts. Sacraments are moments of faith, not just social occasions."
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