St Vincent de Paul in Donegal are asking families struggling to pay for forthcoming First Holy Communion days not to approach money lenders.
They say the event can be a costly day for families and often those who can least afford it “spend the most”.
A local spokesman for the charity society stated the sums spent can be “truly staggering” and they are becoming aware of the increasing stress that First Holy Communion places on parents.
“This may be acceptable for those who can afford it but it is crippling for families on the minimum wage or Social Welfare. SVP branches across Donegal are experiencing however, that it is those who can least afford it who spend most,” they added.
They have advised not to get involved in borrowing for the day from money lenders.
“It is likely that this April and May families will approach moneylenders in Letterkenny and many other towns across the county and pay high rates of interest rates on a loan taken out for Holy Communion. SVP Members have met mothers paying back 30%, 35% and 40% interest for bills accrued to make Christmas possible, but some moneylenders can charge as much as 187% legally. This should not happen when it comes to the Catholic churches Holy Sacraments.” Kevin Cooley, Vice President of SVP in Donegal says: “The Society of St. Vincent De Paul can help. If you must get a loan, use the Credit Union or approach the society and a solution other than borrowing from money lenders will be found. Do not get involved with moneylenders is the overwhelming advice SVP wants to give people”.
Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Children Charlie McConalogue also has expressed concern about the increased financial pressure on young families at this time of year due to First Communion costs, and has urged parents to resist the temptation to turn to loan sharks.
According to a survey by the EBS published this week, the estimated cost of a Communion will be €554 per child, an increase up €75 on last year.
Deputy McConalogue commented: “This can be a particularly difficult time for parents who want to make their children’s First Communion special and memorable. The cost of outfits and accessories, preparations and celebrations all adds up and suddenly families are faced with bills of hundreds and often thousands of euro at a time when they can least afford it.
For more information visit www.svpnw.org