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Opting out of First Penance/Communion

(19 Posts)
stoptalkingaboutminecraft Tue 07-Mar-17 13:51:50

I'm interested to hear if anyone based in Northern Ireland whose children go to a Catholic school have chosen to opt out of First Penance and Holy Communion.

I have one child at school and two at home to follow. He's in P3 and has come home saying he's doing his First Penance/Confession on 10th March. My gut feeling is that I don't want him to participate. I'm very against confession in general, particularly for children. It makes my blood boil frankly that innocent children are expected to ask forgiveness from the Catholic Church with all its wrongdoings.

Obviously I realise I sent my child to a Catholic school but it's our nearest one and we are also Catholics, but non practising apart from christenings, weddings and funerals. I did not particularly want my children christened but it would have been upsetting for our families if we hadn't and also would have caused restrictions for them in future in regards to marriage etc.

Anyone opted out, how did it go? Husband even less of a believer than me but thinks we should go with the flow and let our children decide for themselves when they are older but to pull them our of the sacraments would make them feel left out.

stoptalkingaboutminecraft Tue 07-Mar-17 13:53:18

I think the situation in Tuam at the moment is making me think very strongly about pulling him out of this.

Amber76 Tue 07-Mar-17 13:59:42

Talk to the school - perhaps they can offer some ideas? We're similar to you but my eldest is 5. They were christened only because it is so important to grandparents.

I know at least one child in my dds class will be wearing a nice white dress on communion day and be part of the singing, etc but won't take communion and school is okay with this.

reallyanotherone Tue 07-Mar-17 14:10:17

Sorry no help, but find it interesting that it's still called penance/confession, in england it's now "reconciliation" which i think is much more positive?

What does your son think? I have never thought much of the forgive your sins thing, but as a child i used to find it comforting that there was an adult i could go to if in trouble. Still do as an adult. Never needed to, obviously, and i'm more lapsed than not now, but that is one thing i hold on to my catholicism for.

stoptalkingaboutminecraft Tue 07-Mar-17 14:19:22

It was called First Confession when I did it in the 80's so I was also surprised to hear it called penance! He doesn't really know what it's all about, just that he's singing a song! I've yet to fully talk it over with him as I don't want to confuse him by not agreeing with the school. He is only just turned 7 and these are deep subject matters I feel! I know he will want to do it as he wouldn't want to be left out but will not understand the significance of the event. I'm also confused as I thought Holy Communion and Confession were done in the same year but seems First Communion is next year. It's a very small school, I'm worried that if we opted out it would have repercussions as regards how he is treated by the teachers.

Amber76 Tue 07-Mar-17 14:21:59

Sorry i just noticed thst child is doing first confession in three days time... Surely he's been preparing for it and is all geared up for it? Wouldn't he be disappointed if you changed your mind at this late stage?

stoptalkingaboutminecraft Tue 07-Mar-17 14:37:58

He could be wrong on the date, We've not had any communication from school about the date, but his religion homework was to learn the act of confession prayer and he's told me he's learning a song.

MrsDoylesladder Tue 07-Mar-17 15:41:02

Odd that that it's called First Penance. It's Reconciliation here in England and the school didn't spring it on us. If I felt strongly about my dd receiving the sacraments, I'd try to get her transferred to a non-faith school. Non-catholics in dd's school obviously don't have to be involved in Reconciliation/Communion. Forgive my ignorance but I assume there are non-faith schools in NI.

MrsDoylesladder Tue 07-Mar-17 15:46:54

Reconciliation for my dd was a very brief private chat with the priest on the altar in full view of everyone. One lad obviously cracked a joke that made the priest laugh. She was 7. FHC was a few weeks after.
I'm a rubbish catholic but I have regular chats with her to "check in" and make sure they aren't filling her head with guilt nonsense or creationist rubbish.

stoptalkingaboutminecraft Tue 07-Mar-17 17:28:22

Strangely after pondering this a lot today I saw an interesting irish times article on Facebook. I hope this link works www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/if-you-don-t-approve-of-the-church-then-don-t-take-part-in-its-rituals-1.1823699

It does put into words a bit how I'm feeling. Part of the problem is that Catholicism is so deeply engrained in us that we didn't really even think about not sending the children to a non catholic school. Unfortunately the choice in this area would be either a Catholic school or a protestant school so what else would we have done. We would be deeply upsetting one set of grandparents if we chose to opt out of this.

I have now confirmed with another parent that's it's next month and it seems it's just the children teacher and priest.

MrsDoylesladder Tue 07-Mar-17 17:32:39

If the school is not open to you delaying (indefinitely if that's what you want) and you would not be happy transferring to a Protestant school, I would let it happen but keep your ears open with your child.

TheCraicDealer Tue 07-Mar-17 17:45:51

Do you have an integrated option near you? It sounds as if you're now starting to think twice about the ethos of the school, for want of a better word, and that's ok. If there's no integrated school close to you or you're otherwise happy with where he is, personally I'd keep him in but send him to an integrated or just non catholic secondary. The religion classes could be a good way of having him explore his critical thinking skills, if nothing else!

A word of advice for post-primary is not to discount "Protestant" schools. My old school was a well established voluntary grammar in North Belfast which was actually about 1/3 RC. In fact the year after I left they took more Catholics than Protestants in that first year intake.

stoptalkingaboutminecraft Tue 07-Mar-17 18:00:58

Thanks for the responses. Mrs Doyle we probably will go down that route, I'm just feeling like what we decide for the first child will be what we go with for the younger two also so just paused for thought. There is one integrated primary school a good bit outside of the town but from what I hear is very hard to get a place. Also my son loves his school and his friends there and I wouldn't want to disrupt him unless I had major issues with his current school.

The Craic Dealer, sorry I hope I wasnt offensive by saying Protestant school, it's just an unknown entity to me and I have actually considered the other school in town for my younger two as ours is very small and only has 2 teachers and a principle so have composite classes which may not suit with the younger two ad they are v close in age and would spend most of their school life in the same classroom together.

TheCraicDealer Tue 07-Mar-17 18:15:35

Auch no! It's common parlance, even if it's not strictly true. Which is a shame, as if we didn't have these labels then Catholic families might feel like it's less of an issue sending kids to a non-RC school, which would also take the pressure off the integrated sector. But at least we have some semblance of choice- it's even worse in the South.

Totallypearshaped Tue 07-Mar-17 22:28:36

Why don't you let your lad decide for himself stop

If he's able to decide to do it with his mates, he's able to decide not to do it. You've got to trust he'll make the right decision for himself.

After all his religion is none of your business. or as an aside, his sexuality for that matter

So many parents pull and push children for their own reasons.

If you aren't interested in Christianity or Catholicism, well and good, that's your choice. Aford the same respect for your children.

If they're old enough to decide to do it, let them. If you feel they're too young to decide, then ask if they can decide about it later when they're more mature.

Fwiw, my DD on her own, decided not to do the full fandango in the RC school, and was absolutely ostracised by the Catholics in the school.

In the light of what lies buried in Tuam, I'm glad she stuck to her guns in the midst of some very hateful and sectarian comments to me and her made by the delightful little angels in their pseudo-brideo'Christ weddin' dresses, and the mutton dressed as lamb mammies.

Guess who has egg on their chins now?
No apology though for the hateful comments and bullying. I won't hold my breath for that. But that's the form to the bigoted religious in Ireland I find.

Let your boys each decide what they'd like to do and support them in whatever they decide- your childrens' spirituality really isn't any of your business stop no matter how or what you feel about the recent revelations of clerical child sex abuse and it's institutionalised cover ups or baby genocides.

Totallypearshaped Tue 07-Mar-17 22:29:32

Why don't you let your lad decide for himself stop

If he's able to decide to do it with his mates, he's able to decide not to do it. You've got to trust he'll make the right decision for himself.

After all his religion is none of your business. or as an aside, his sexuality for that matter

So many parents pull and push children for their own reasons.

If you aren't interested in Christianity or Catholicism, well and good, that's your choice. Aford the same respect for your children.

If they're old enough to decide to do it, let them. If you feel they're too young to decide, then ask if they can decide about it later when they're more mature.

Fwiw, my DD on her own, decided not to do the full fandango in the RC school, and was absolutely ostracised by the Catholics in the school.

In the light of what lies buried in Tuam, I'm glad she stuck to her guns in the midst of some very hateful and sectarian comments to me and her made by the delightful little angels in their pseudo-brideo'Christ weddin' dresses, and the mutton dressed as lamb mammies.

Guess who has egg on their chins now?
No apology though for the hateful comments and bullying. I won't hold my breath for that. But that's the form to the bigoted religious in Ireland I find.

Let your boys each decide what they'd like to do and support them in whatever they decide- your childrens' spirituality really isn't any of your business stop no matter how or what you feel about the recent revelations of clerical child sex abuse and it's institutionalised cover ups or baby genocides.

Totallypearshaped Tue 07-Mar-17 22:31:37

New York New York.
Sorry about the double post... anyone should think I'm from Cork!

MarDhea Wed 08-Mar-17 13:25:09

I don't agree that age 7/8 is old enough to be making decisions about religion. They're wee kids at that age, more concerned with fitting in with their mates than thinking about god and the whole historical package that is Catholicism. It's not giving a child any sort of choice about religion to place them in a catholic school where religion is all-immersive. hmm

OP, I get where you're coming from. I'm an atheist who was raised Catholic and found the whole catholic school experience incredibly brainwashing. It was only in my 20s that I realised how damaging the messages were to my self esteem and views of my own bodily autonomy. As a result, I won't send my kids to Catholic school.

That's my decision (and my DH's), and I won't project it onto anyone else. But if you are disengaging from Catholicism, then it might be a good idea to weigh up which you would regret more: moving your DC to a different school where they'll share the same classroom, or leaving them in a catholic school where they will be strongly encouraged to believe things you don't.

Good luck flowers

stoptalkingaboutminecraft Wed 08-Mar-17 16:53:08

Thank you MarDhea, yes I agree it's too young for him to decide himself. It's just crept up on us as we thought all this was happening next year. I think a lot will go over his head at the moment. In fairness myself and husband both educated primary and secondary Catholic school and we still came to our own conclusions, yet still married in catholic church and christened all 3 children! It really is difficult to separate out from the church when it's what you're raised with despite not believing in a lot of the doctrine.

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