A Belfast priest has faced online criticism after hitting out at those who present their children for sacraments but don’t donate to the church.

During a service last weekend, Fr Martin Magill of St John’s on the Falls Road said it was not fair for those who don’t regularly attend Mass to bring their kids for sacraments and then neglect donating to the parish.

Addressing the church’s webcam during the service, he began his homily by calling on its volunteers to “share out their responsibility”, as it was not “fair” that “more and more being asked of those who already volunteer”.

He went on to address those watching the service through the webcam.

“That’s you, the parents who bring your children for baptism, we certainly welcome you.

“Some of you leave a donation which goes to parish funds and some of you don’t.

hink about this, you are taking advantage of other people’s generosity, that’s not fair.

“When I am talking to you, when you bring your children for baptism, you take on the responsibility to pass on the faith to them.

“Simply sending them to a Catholic school and the next time you turn up is for their first confession isn’t meeting that responsibility, at some stage we need to talk about cheap grace.

“Have a look at first communion. We had three classes here on a Sunday. How many of you have been back since?

“Let me address this. I have heard afterwards some parents or some of those who were here used the word ‘disgrace’ when we took up the parish collections.

“Let me say, if we didn’t take up those collections, there wouldn’t be a St John’s church for you to attend for first holy communion.”

Following his sermon, which was broadcast on St John’s Facebook page, many took to social media to express their anger at Fr Magill’s comments.


I agree with Fr Magill’s sentiments.

No one can charge for sacraments. That’s SIMONY!

But let’s be practical. Church buildings cost money to run – lighting, heating, cleaning, maintenance etc

These things are often paid for by faithful parishioners paying their £5. £10 or £20 per week into their parish

Why should someone, or parents, who never darken the Church door for years and contribute nothing think that they can use the building and its services for nothing?

If they or their families are using facilities, they should contribute.

Especially when they are splashing out big money on things like dresses, suits, hairdressing, limos, restaurant meals, photography, etc.

None of these things would be happening if it were not for the original baptism, confirmation, or wedding.

It’s as if people want to pay for all the accidentals but not for the basis event.

The Bible addresses this issue

1 Timothy 5:18 

Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “The worker deserves his wages.”

When I started celebrating weddings 30 years ago, I left the offering to people’s generosity and sense of goodness and justice.

I was utterly shocked by people’s lack of generosity and lack of thoughtfulness.

They would give me an envelope with a Fiver in it – and then spend a £1000 on a helicopter.

Not on!

Of course, if people are poor, it’s very different.

I’ve taken nothing from such people and paid for a wedding meal for them

But if people are spending £ 30,000 to £50,000 on a wedding and a honeymoon, I will not take a Fiver or it’s equivalent from them.

I‘m more than happy to be a servant.

But not a doormat.

I have bills too – electricity, gas, lighting, heating, maintenance, cleaning, and so forth.

If you want a doormat, try B&Q.