Sadness turns to joy on Peter’s confirmation day
A County Wicklow mother told this week how sadness turned to joy for her 11-year-old son after a bitter struggle with the Catholic Church to have him confirmed.
Mrs Rose Townsend said that she would have never forgiven the church had they not allowed her son Peter to accept the sacrament in Newtown where all his friends were being confirmed.
The trauma started last April when Mrs Townsend asked local curate Fr Sean Smith to confirm Peter, who attends a Church of Ireland school in Newcastle.
Fr Smith refused on the grounds that they had already missed two preparatory meetings so it would not be possible to confirm him, according to Mrs Townsend.
‘We brought the matter to higher church authorities but were up against a stone wall at the time. Nobody seemingly wanted to overrule Fr Smith’s decision,’ she said.
Mrs Townsend explained that the Parish Priest, Fr Regan, offered them a place in the Roundwood ceremony at an earlier date but they declined on two main grounds.
Firstly, they felt that even though Peter was being prepared for the sacrament by a priest friend, he was not quite ready, and anyway, Mrs Townsend and all her family had been confirmed in Newtown and she wanted the same for her child.
‘We lived in England for 16 years and I brought Peter back specially when he was only a few weeks old so that he could be christened in Newtown,’ she said. ‘I could not accept a reluctance to confirm him here.’
Mrs Townsend, whose husband is a member of the Church of Ireland, suspected that the real reason behind the refusal was because Peter attended a Protestant school.
She contacted a Sunday newspaper and two days before the story appeared, she received a phone call from Bishop Donal murray giving consent for Peter’s confirmation to go ahead.