When Kraków’s churches hang white sashes and flowers outside their doors and gates, it’s a sure sign that the all-important first Holy Communions are underway.
But changes in the rules about when children should take this step in the Catholic Church mean that, come 2014, the sashes and flowers will be practically non-existant in Kraków and across most of Małopolska. The problem has emerged because of education reforms which now make the assumption that children start school at the age of six. What this means in practice is that children in the third grade will, by 2015, be the same age as those in the second – nine.
Church authorities were given the freedom to choose which classes would take First Holy Communion, and most in the region have adopted a policy of ‘third grade only’. So there will be almost no First Communions in churches in Kraków in 2014.
Father Krzysztof Wilk, head of the the Department of Pastoral Care of Children and Young People in Kraków, said the delay would improve children’s spiritual understanding. He added: “It is better that the children go to communion a little later than a year too early.”
Here’s what First Holy Communion looks like for many Polish children – as recorded for Muszyna.tv:
- How to receive Holy Communion (catholicherald.co.uk)
- German Catholics Will Be Denied Holy Communion or a Religious Burial if They Refuse to Pay Church Tax (sott.net)
- Archbishop calls for less extravagance for Holy Communion (newstalk.ie)