Many parents are getting into debt to cover the cost of First Holy Communion day.

It is that time of year when thousands of parents together with their young sons and daughters celebrate First Holy Communion. However the meaning of the sacrament often plays second fiddle to the latest fashions.

Jackie Lee calculates her daughter Katie's First Communion dress and accessories cost €700. She paid off the total amount in instalments, but is aware of the extravagant spend,

Bit expensive, but don’t mind, she’s my only daughter.

Manager of 5th Avenue, Michelle Bell says the store’s Communion season starts immediately after Christmas. She advises families to plan and start budgeting early as it is not unusual for costs to include ear piercing, jewellery and

People hire out limousines and some have even talked about putting children onto sunbeds.

Spokesperson for the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) Michael Culloty says people who are on low income often resort to using moneylenders to cover First Holy Communion costs because,

It is their only place for credit very often.

Teacher Neil MacCullagh explains the true meaning of Communion to his class. For some of the pupils, First Communion it is all about their outfit, or how much Communion money they will receive on the day. For one student, originally from Russia, the most important part of the sacrament is Jesus.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 23 May 2002. The reporter is Sharon Ní Bheoláin.