THE Catholic Bishop of Cloyne is advising parents of First Communion and Confirmation classes to defer the purchase of outfits for their big days because the sacraments will have to be deferred because of Covid-19.
In a letter issued to all priests in the diocese, Bishop William Crean said that Coronavirus continues to be rampant in the community, resulting in the delayed return to school for children.
He said: "Even with a gradual return, it will reduce the time needed for pre-sacramental preparation. The knock on effect will be the reduced time for the celebration of the sacraments."
Confirmations get underway typically at the end of February but Bishop Crean is now advising his clergy that all Confirmation and First Communion ceremonies should be deferred "until the months of May and June, at the earliest".
He said that both ceremonies will be conducted by priests of the parishes and "all celebrations will be dependent on the prevailing public health regulations." He added that ''specific delegation will be given in due time to the priest celebrants of Confirmation''.
He continued: "Due to the unavoidable difficulty in planning, it is strongly recommended that parents should defer the purchase of new 'outfits' until they know the likely date of the celebration."
Bishop Crean said that he will be communicating separately with school principals to express "our appreciation of their ongoing leadership in these challenging circumstances."
A spokesman for the Cork and Ross diocese said that no plan has yet been made for the ceremonies.
In the Dublin Archdiocese, parishes have been asked not to hold any Confirmation ceremonies before Easter.
Schools and churches remain closed under the current level 5 Covid-19 restrictions.
A decision is expected this week on when the schools will reopen. However, junior classes are expected to be the first to return to primary schools.