This weekend will be a busy, but great, weekend at St Joseph's. On Saturday morning over 30 young people will make their First Communion. They have prepared over the past year for this great day. Each child has attended class on a Sunday morning beginning either at 9.30 a.m. or 11 a.m. and lasting one hour. Parents bring the children who are instructed by a team of over 40 volunteers from the parish of St Joseph. On Pentecost Sunday afternoon there will be Confirmations for St Joseph's parish and Marymount School Paris. Again, these students have prepared either on a Sunday morning at St Joseph's or at Marymount School, where I serve as chaplain.
When I read about the controversy in Ireland about the 'Baptism' requirement to get a school place, my heart goes out to all parents and families who are doing the best they can for their children to get a good education. The issue it seems is a lack of sufficient school places provided by the Government and the large number of schools under the patronage of the Catholic Church and a lesser number by other Churches. Historically, I quite appreciate how these arose. I wonder if the local church, believers who could spare an hour sharing their faith with God's little ones and families could come together to ensure that those who wish to have the Sacraments taken by their children could do so outside of the school context? This does not mean that a school would have a 'neutral' ethos, but it would leave it to the local community, religious and not religious, to work this out. If Catholic or other Church schools are chosen by a local community, I would be delighted to hear this. But, bringing the Sacrament of Baptism into the area of school admissions, does neither the Church nor the School any favours. AT