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Any catholic moms with youngish children out there to help think?

(20 Posts)
thehiddenpaw Sun 02-Feb-14 21:54:28

Got a very direct and unpleasant email from my church saying my child was not ready to make his communion last year and they had made a mistake. Can give more background ..... It is prompted due to our pause on going to local prayer group. Been to my work Chaplin, who was very helpful, still feeling raw and just wanting any other experience share thanks

Annunziata Sun 02-Feb-14 22:33:08

You must be American? I am not sure how it works there.

Does the prayer group double up as a preparatory session?

sashh Tue 04-Feb-14 08:40:07

I can't help other than WOW, that's nasty.

Unexpected Tue 04-Feb-14 08:53:31

What reasons did they give for your child not being ready? Our parish run preparation sessions for both parents and children and there have been instances in the past where parents have been contacted when they/their children have missed several sessions. I think that's quite correct (well, it certainly was in the case of the mother I knew who continually missed sessions, causing disruption to the rest of the small group of which she was part). However, the only thing that mattered for Communion is that those sessions were attended, any other involvement/lack of in the parish was completely irrelevant.

Are you saying that because you have stopped attending another prayer group, the parish are refusing your child Communion? When did this happen - you mention "last year"?

thehiddenpaw Tue 04-Feb-14 20:15:20

Hi, live in north England. Have attended local church over 20 years. Local priest prepared us for marriage. 3 children baptised there. They run a prayer group for children age 6 onwards. Our eldest started when 7. They use it as sacrament preparation. No special classes were run to prepare for communion. They all just go every week term time to this after school prayer group. I was wondering why no special prep for hc but assumed this was how done here in norh. ( I am Irish)kids go to c of e school. No near rc school. The email came two weeks ago. He made his communion last May. I was shocked. It said his knowledge of liturgy was inadequate and they had made a mistake allowing him to do his communion. Among other comments. I did not know his communion had been conduit all on his continuing with prayer group. We had paused him going to prayer group for a number of reasons. It had been the intent to return as he enjoyed it. I had told them this via email and in person several times as I had been asked twice by two of the catchiest. I had explained the reasons and that I was giving him some choices but not intended to stop just trying something else.
We go to mass but not regular and I was very ill for two months before and over Xmas which one of the catechisms knew as she had seen me over the period. So hardly been to mass for months.i also attend a mother prayers group but agin irregular as it clashed with away trips on business and school governor. But always explained if I could not go. Probably made half the sessions. But these were again not prep for communion, just a prayer group, which again, I had not stopped going to.
No prep for communion was done with us parents. But I assumed this was normal. The thing I thought odd was all the children at their prayer group did the same thing most of the time. Knew this as I called Iain to pick up and say closing prayers with them and look at the work. Only 6 children age ranging 6 to 11 of which 3 did communion. Does this help? Sorry am so distressed still. Have now spoken to two of the catechisms including the one who sent the email. She has apologised for emailing but it does not change the message. She referred to 'it' being discussed at parish council proo putting her to send the email. It sounds as if they were talking about my child and his inadequate knowledge. She said they want the children to understand each part of the mass before they take fist communion and that he did not really know what it was about. I do not disagree. I was not pushing that he did it and it all seemed very casual, his first confession date he missed as we told them we were going to Ireland for a confirmation and even though there were only three of them doing it, they organised it the one weekend we were away!rant over temporarily

Gingerdodger Tue 04-Feb-14 20:32:36

Sorry you have had such a bad experience, it doesn't sound very welcoming or family friendly. Although our local churches here seem to vary considerably with expectations regarding commitment to the Sacramental programme with some insistent on regular mass attendance, others that they complete the programme I don't know if any churches that don't do a specific programme for those children.

Are you in a very rural area? I wondered given the small numbers you talked about. If so thus might not work but are there any other Catholic churches about who may be a bit more welcoming?

If not maybe you need to try and feedback to someone how excluded it has made your family feel.

Whilst I think we can all agree that it's important that children are properly prepared for their first Communion I wonder what their expectations are? My own experience is that children at that age vary massively in their understanding and motivation but as long as they are respectful and can understand the significance and that they are entering into a real communion with God then I cannot see why they would be denied the sacrament. A deeper understanding can always come later but sometimes a child's simplicity can be deeply spiritual.

I hope you manage to get sorted.

thehiddenpaw Tue 04-Feb-14 21:37:37

Thanks, just wanting to hear from others, it all helps. I spoke to my work Chaplin who is Methodist but gave good consel. Am considering another rc local church. Yes very rural but other church 7 miles away so not impossible. I do feel that the email wording implied he should not take the sacrament but have not asked the direct question. I worry of the impact on him if I suggest he didn't versus going to mass knowing we are being observed and failing to meet standards. I know I am ranting. It was such a shock I think it will take time to work through. My husband was equally shocked though is not as distressed. He is more practical, try another church, do what we can and accept that it is not good enough but better than nothing.honestly if you saw the email it is distressing. I am not a crying person and I cried that night, next morning and then at lunch! I have told one of the catchishts who knew I was ill, how excluded and unwelcome it makes me feel. What a shame. All I wa ted to do was bring our children up in our faith we will but now I feel I am judged and that is bad. Sorry everyone am normally a positive person and will soon find my positives out if this.

DioneTheDiabolist Wed 05-Feb-14 00:55:07

Let me get this straight OP: a lay member of your church has said that your child can no longer take communion!shock

I would forward the e-mail to your bishop and complain. I have never heard of such a thing. Even if it were sanctioned by the church, the priest should have come round and spoken to you in person. Definitely speak to your priest and send that e-mail to the bishop's office.

thehiddenpaw Wed 05-Feb-14 19:32:28

No they haven't denied him communion ,just said he was not ready and they shouldn't have allowed him to take the sacrament. It does make me feel as though it would be wrong to bring him to communion given the comments. The words were ,inadequate understanding of liturgy and we should have delayed his communion. It also makes reference to communion being e start of the road with Jesus not the end. My Chaplin at work was shocked at the content of the email but on reflection concluded they are not denying him communion. It is more the inference, the feeling observed and lacking and generally being distressed. I am calming down though!

thehiddenpaw Wed 05-Feb-14 19:35:37

The email

When Xxxxxxx made his First Communion last year, we were all aware that his knowledge and understanding of the Sacrament were rather inadequate, but we thought that we could help him gain more appreciation of Holy Communion by continuing his teaching this year. However we have not seen him at church club at all, and cannot help him in any way.

If we had realised that this was to happen, we should have delayed the process altogether. It was wrong of us to move forward so quickly. I really feel that we have not served him or our parish well.

I have hesitated to put this in writing as I would have preferred to speak to you, but an opportunity is difficult to arrange.. . First Communion Day is supposed to be the beginning of a new closer walk with Jesus, not the end of the road.

I do hope you understand the concerns of Zzzzzz catechists and priest.


DioneTheDiabolist Wed 05-Feb-14 19:40:47

OP have you spoken to your priest about this? What did he say? I would want to know the point of the e-mail other than upsetting you.

minniemagoo Wed 05-Feb-14 19:52:03

Where religion is taught outside the school system the RC church does not seem to have a standard policy. In Ireland it is becoming more of an issue where Sacrament Preparation is done outside school in Educate Together schools. At the moment here it is up to each parish what is required, some require much more attendance at classes than others.
It seems your parish is struggling to come up with a policy for children outside the RC education system. This is their first 'shot' across the bows of parents - they obviously expect greater attendance at preparations, greater attendance at mass and more communication with families such as yours.
Their letter doesn't read that bad to me, they obviously feel that once your child received the sacrament that you 'took a break' from his religious education. Its a bit of an 'after the horse has left the stable' thing. Children in an RC school will have had much more instruction.
You need to decide if you want to continue with this church, your son and any other children will be monitored much more closely when it comes to confirmation. However, you could take this as an opportunity to work with the committee to put into place proper plans for families such as yours.

Annunziata Wed 05-Feb-14 20:02:32


I am really shocked by that letter. I would not bother going to see the parish priest, I'd go to the bishop.

I'm so sorry for you, having to deal with this sad flowers

HoneyandRum Wed 05-Feb-14 21:18:38

This was handled really badly by your parish and I am also shocked and saddened that you received that email. The irony is that with such a small group of children they can monitor them all so closely but with their very poor pastoral response they may have scared off one of the few families with young children!

Thehiddenpaw I had a similar but definitely not as bad experience. We were new to our German parish and our eldest child began preparation for her First Holy Communion. The classes met every week on a Wednesday afternoon. Unfortunately for various reasons involving illness etc. we missed a few Wednesdays. When we returned the (very kind) pastoral assistant took me to one side and said the priest would like to talk to me as maybe our DD should not continue but begin again the following year. Oh I was devastated, angry and embarrassed. Well, I went to meet the priest on a Friday morning and Mass was celebrated first. Before Mass I was so angry and hurt but during the Mass I prayed and offered it all to God. By the end of Mass I was at peace and knew it was God's will for us to pull our dd out of the class.

I meet the priest and told him of my decision and he was so relieved and said some of the other parents had complained as we had missed class! I had never encountered anythng like this in any parish I had belonged to but thought, well I guess this is small village life in Germany for you! Anyway, cut to eight months later when I went to register DD for classes again. The pastoral assistant told me she felt so terrible about what had happened. She said she was new to the position and it was the first year she had taught the classes. When parents complained she thought they were probably right that we should wait, however once their child had their FHC the families who complained were never seen again while we were regulars at Mass. She said it taught her a big lesson about listening to others when preventing children coming to God.

The Good News is my DDs German had improved so much that she enjoyed and understood the classes much better when she retook them. Also she had been in school for a year and many children she knew were in the class so the whole experience was great for her. We also have a very happy experience in our parish and we appreciate there were misunderstandings on both sides.

In your case some people have also got way too much time on their hands to be deciding who is Catholic "enough". Please don't let this rest, make sure whoever needs to know (maybe the Bishop) is aware that you received this emai. I somehow think a few people are missing the point of Christianity entirely here!

HoneyandRum Wed 05-Feb-14 21:48:15

After my somewhat rantyish reply blush I do want to encourage you to speak to your PP first. He may have had no idea (hopefully) that an email like this was sent out. Show him a copy and give him a chance to see how he responds.

3bunnies Thu 06-Feb-14 05:42:02

When dd1 did her first Communion there was a clear expectation that you attended most of the classes, and ideally mass regularly. The church however does recognise that many of the children will not often come after the event, for example families who are only seen in church when they have a child going through the process are not turned away when the next child is in yr3. I think that they see it as sowing a seed for that child.

I think that they were wrong to send that email and they need feedback. If they had concerns then they should have said something before the First Communion - to do it now serves no purpose. He can never take his first Communion again as it will not be his first time. Do you feel that he understands at the level he is able to? I would say that it is now between him and God. I would try the other church.

thehiddenpaw Thu 06-Feb-14 22:34:51

Thanks everyone, it really has helped to hear your thoughts and that you have spent some time to write posts for me.
Regarding the email, it went to all the catchishts and the parish priest. So he knows what was said.. My work Chaplin offered advice that he would not be the best person to see, based on othe interactions. She suggested trying another local rc church. I don't want to go to the bishop. I don't want to escalate it. It won't help my relationships in a small community.
We didn't stop going to church after communion in May. We just paused prayer group. We were at mass in early jan and the catechism saw me then but was too busy to stop to talk. I have also continued with mothers prayer group over the summer, one of only two moms on a hot August rare night!
I agree my sadness is it has detracted from a special event in our family life. We cannot go back in time. Thanks for the thoughts re future scrutiny of the rest of the children. This is a concern of mine and it helps to hear someone also express it.
Finally, thanks for honeyandrum story of Germany. It does feel similar. I
I am off to mass this weekend and will go back to local church as it remains important to me. I need to go and while I am uncomfortable, it is a hurdle I will cross and hopefully the calm of being able to celebrate in mass will ease my soul.

HoneyandRum Fri 07-Feb-14 12:03:00

thehiddenpaw as your PP was cced in the email he saw what was said but it doesn't mean he agrees with it. I would still meet with him privately and discuss it. I think it's important that he hear how it felt to be on the receiving end of such an email. I am still very shock and sad that you are having this experience. Hopefully if we believe in forgiveness and reconciliation a way can be found through this and out the other side to peace. I just think it's very important they appreciate the serious lack of pastoral care in this situation. I don't think having a private chat should cause any problems except hopefully greater understanding.

Gingerdodger Fri 07-Feb-14 17:04:21

I would agree with Honey. Your Priest needs to know how you feel. Attitudes like this can lead to whole families being lost to the Church which is so sad. He really should take this on board.

Your experience just baffles me to be honest. Every year about 50 children make their first Communion in our church. I would hazard that only about 10 of those are regular mass attenders with probably about the same again who attend Easter, Christmas etc but I would hate to think that any one of those families who didnt attend would not be welcomed back with open arms.

The attitude here doesnt feel very Christian at all and your experience needs raising. I am really sad for you but please be assured not all Catholics or the Catholic Church in England is like this.

thehiddenpaw Sat 08-Feb-14 20:51:48

Thanks everyone. Really do appreciate your comments. Off to mass in the morning and hoping it is just a normal event in our week.

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