Achonry bishop says it had never been planned in his diocese to go ahead with Confirmations, First Confessions and First Communions this month

A local bishop says his diocese is not going ahead with Confirmations, First Confessions and First Communions this month.

In a statement issued this afternoon, the Bishop of Achonry says it had never been planned that these sacraments would be administered in his diocese until September.

Bishop Dempsey’s clarification follows a number of other Catholic bishops having gone against government advice by allowing the sacraments to go ahead this month.

They include Bishop of Elphin Kevin Doran, the Bishop of the cross-Border diocese of Clogher Larry Duffy and Bishop of Raphoe Alan McGuckian.

But this afternoon, the Bishop of Achonry, Paul Dempsey said that during the past few days, a number of bishops had issued statements in relation to the celebration of the Sacraments of First Holy Communion and Confirmation in their dioceses.

He said he had been contacted by some media organisations asking for clarification around the celebration of the Sacraments in the Diocese of Achonry.

In response, he pointed out that on the 24th February this year he issued a statement saying that in consultation with the Priests’ Council, he had decided to postpone the celebration of the Sacraments of Confirmation, First Penance and First Holy Communion in Achonry Diocese until the Autumn.

He had said his hope then was that this would give schools and families more time for the preparation of the children and would enable families to gather in a safer way to celebrate the Sacraments when the majority of people are vaccinated and restrictions had eased.

He recalled that he emphasised the reason for this decision last February was to bring clarity at an early stage for all concerned and to enable the children have a meaningful and memorable celebration with their families, friends, and parish community when it is safer to do so.

This afternoon, Bishop Dempsey said that following on from this, Confirmations are due to start in the Diocese of Achonry on the 12th of September.

As parishes had postponed First Communion Ceremonies until September also, the celebration of these Sacraments in August was never planned for the Achonry diocese, he said.

Bishop Dempsey added that as the vaccination programme continues, they looked forward to celebrating the Sacraments with children and their families in a safe and meaningful way from mid-September onwards.

There are twenty-three parishes in the Achonry diocese — 11 are in County Sligo, 11 in County Mayo and one, the Cathedral Parish, is partially in Co. Roscommon.