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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Florry and Marina

It’s all churchy stuff this week. On Monday the meeting with Marina, the First Communion coordinator and then this morning, collecting our baptism certificate.

The First Communion meeting was in the church. On the way in I asked a (quite good looking) dad if I was in the right place and we had a quick chat walking up the aisle. For a few seconds I was in secondary school again and going to a rehearsal for The King and I and “nonchalantly” chatting to a boy on the way in (under the deliciously curious gaze of classmates). I felt compelled to say something to the effect that I was so not a mass-goer and then quickly worried that he was.

Marina started by picking up a microphone and then in a really down to earth way announced she didn’t need it as she “talked with her hands”. She told us that she was from the Kildare diocese which is “of course, just down the road!” Trying, I suppose, to say, we are close neighbours. I think most of us knew where Kildare is though, so she failed in that respect. Then she continued to witter on about finding a special place for our First Communion candles, buying a holy water font, attending mass and in short, saying that if we were good parents we would introduce our kids to the boring church stuff now, in payment of sorts for the fun of First Communion Day. She regaled us with “hilarious” anecdotes about children who compete to see who prays the most and therefore has the shortest candle; those who insist on bringing their candle to mass even if they are on holiday and the child who taught her parents to say grace before meals.

As she talks I can see her trying to make eye contact with us all and I cannot resist the urge to deny her, focussing instead on her little black shoes, her gums that need flossing, her chunky talking hands. She tells another story about a little girl whose family were so busy erecting a bouncy castle and organising a party that they decided to skip the church ceremony on the day of the first communion. We all assumed at this stage that another polite titter was expected and delivered it until she said “you may laugh, but what is it all about?” and everyone stopped sniggering and those who had maintained eye contact quickly looked down.

Then, question time. There was only one;
“Where can I buy rosary beads that will match my daughters’ parasol?”

We depart at nine with the news that our kids first communion candles would be given out at the end of mass next Sunday.   

I had to collect our baby’s’ baptism certificate this morning. I knew where to go. Straight down to the back of the church, through a heavy wooden door to a big room with a waxed floor and a Narnia-ish wardrobe where priests robes are hanging. There I found Florry, who “does” for the parish priest. I like Florry. She has a sweet smile and clearly relishes her job in a way that sort of makes me appreciate the Catholic Church a little bit. She’s so purposeful. Taking out a big old fashioned book where we are recorded, she finds a blank baptism certificate and slowly fills our details in; in that careful, old lady writing that mixes capitals and lower case at random.

Around her, other old ladies hover. “I wish I didn’t come in today” she says to them gleefully “do you know what I mean? I’m that snowed under!” Most are watching her, but one little bird-like creature sits at a big, shiny mahogany table counting money. “Seven hundred and ten, seven hundred and twenty..”

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