28th August, 2020

Dear Parents,
Over the last six months, our lives have been affected and restricted in so many different ways by Covid 19 – the Coronavirus.
Since our Churches were closed for 4 months, we were regrettably placed in the position where we had to postpone, of necessity, our celebrations of first communion this year. Over the last five weeks, the Church has reopened, albeit  in a very restricted way, and with many of our normal elements of Mass temporarily suspended.

The possibility of having First Communions over the coming weeks has been mooted, but with many of our normal elements of celebration necessarily withdrawn from the Mass.    For example, at present we are not allowed to sing at Mass; processions are not permitted; face coverings are essential: receiving the Precious Blood from the chalice is not possible; readings and prayers have been reduced; gatherings for photographs also prohibited and we are advised to go our separate ways immediately after Mass is over, rather than prolonging our time together.
Mass, at present is, of necessity, marked above all by brevity and therefore runs quite counter in many respects to our normal experience of what Mass should be for us

Another important factor is the present limit on the number of people who can gathering for Mass. As things stand just now, we are not permitted to have more than 50 people present at any of the Masses in our Church – just a mere 10 percent of its capacity. For first communions, we normally plan for just fewer than 500 people present and 3 Masses.
In order to have first Communions just now, it would be necessary to have no less than 9 additional Masses, if each child was accompanied by just 4 family members. In all likelihood, these masses would be have to take place in the evening, since we already have 6 Masses in place from Friday evening until Monday evening. (There is currently no spare capacity at these Masses)

My own proposal to you in the meantime is that we agree to continue to postpone  celebrating first communion until the conditions change markedly for the better and the legislation and guidelines in force make it easier and more conducive to a true celebration of the Sacrament with our children.
I would have to say that things don’t seem to augur too well for an imminent improvement, but the situation, as we know, is fluid. However, if the process is even more drawn out, then we might end up having to wait until springtime next year and the normal time for First Communion.
In instances where individual families still decide to go ahead with First Communion in the coming weeks, we would endeavour to help accommodate those wishes. It may be that there are some practical considerations, such as the length of First Communion dresses and the increase in height of our children!

Before we make our decision, I would be very happy to hear of your own thoughts on things. Please bear in mind also that our number of First Communicants rank among the largest in the Archdiocese (over 80), but there is only one priest here!

With very good wishes,