Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 December 2014

Communion celebration costs rising

The average spend on Holy Communion celebrations by families has gone up again this year to 764 euro
The average spend on Holy Communion celebrations by families has gone up again this year to 764 euro

Catholic youngsters are raking in nearly 600 euro in cash celebrating one of their first sacraments.

An annual Holy Communion survey has found that children can collect 591 euro from family and friends - up 70 euro on last year- with only 12% taking the sage advice to bank the money.

While the cost of the day for parents is far off the heady days of pre-recession Ireland, the average spend has gone up again this year to 764 euro.

And even though the vast majority of mothers and fathers said they were able to pay for it out of their own savings, 6% are being forced to take out a loan, borrowing on average 800 euro.

The Society of St Vincent de Paul said schools should be surveyed on how they encourage the day to be celebrated and what alternative celebrations they host.

"A minority of schools have taken some bold steps but it is only a handful," a spokeswoman said.

"I'd think deeply about a moneylender. They look like an attractive option but they won't be the following week when they are looking for their debt at outlandish rates. Think about other options, when it comes to clothes there are alternatives for dresses and suits."

The annual survey found most of the money went on celebrations outside the church with a party, food and drink running up bills of 334 euro and entertainment later in the day costing another 123 euro.

A breakdown of parents' bills showed another 171 euro on white dresses and smart suits for the day; 196 euro on clothes for other members of the family - a fall of 12% on last year; and a 46 euro bill for hair and make-up for young girls.

The results showed that by the time parents responded to online questionnaires last month 18% of girls had spent all the money they had received in gifts, compared to 12% of boys.

At the height of the boom when limousines, bouncy castles and flash suits and dresses were common, families were reported to be spending up to 1,200 euro on the day prompting bishops to urge restraint on a number of occasions.

A spokesman for the Catholic Church said the issue of families spending large sums celebrating the religious service has frequently been discussed and looked at by the Church hierarchy.

"The First Holy Communion is one of the holy sacraments of the Church and the Church's approach has always been one of encouraging people to minimise costs and to remember what the day is about - it's a significant day on the child's faith journey," he said.

The survey carried out online for Ulster Bank found that the average cost of the day increased over the last year by 32 euro.

The survey of 213 parents was carried out online over three weeks among members of Empathy Research's Ideas Panel who are parents of children who have made their First Holy Communion this year.

Jim Ryan, of Ulster Bank, said: "First Holy Communion presents many children with their first opportunity to learn the value of money and how best to manage it. It's encouraging therefore to see that most children have something left over to save."

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