COLORADO SPRINGS. The sacrament of Penance has been widely promoted within the Church in the past few years. During the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, from Dec. 8, 2015 through Nov. 20, 2016, Pope Francis called for extended times and opportunities for the sacrament. With this year’s 100th Anniversary of the apparitions of the Blessed Mother at Fatima, Portugal, culminating on Oct. 13, 2017, the faithful were reminded of her repeated exhortations for prayer, reparation and penance.
In order to make the sacrament of healing available to more people, Father Jim Baron, pastor of Holy Apostles Parish, has changed the regular confession times from Saturday mornings to Sunday mornings. (Wednesday evening confession time remains the same, 5:30-6:30 p.m.)
As of Dec. 3, confessions are now offered at Holy Apostles beginning 15 minutes before each Sunday morning Mass, continuing, if needed during Mass. Since Holy Apostles has two priests, Father Baron and Father Erin Kochivar, one priest is always available during those times for confession.
The change of confession schedule was announced in November, during the “State of the Parish” presentation Father Baron gave to parishioners.
At the beginning of his homily for the 9 a.m. Mass on Dec. 3, Father Baron reminded people about the new opportunity for confession. He also addressed a common question he has heard. “Father, is that disrespectful, to go to confession (during Mass)?” In reply, Father Baron said that “if someone gets up to go to the restroom, then comes back, that’s not disrespectful — if we take care of various needs.”
He also provided some guidelines. “We’re trying to encourage folks to limit the confession time to three to five minutes,” Father Baron said. “If one would like more spiritual direction or more advice, (they should) schedule time with one of the priests afterwards. But in an effort to make this available to as many parishioners as possible we’ll try to keep a very succinct confession time.”
After the first weekend of the new schedule, response was overwhelmingly positive.
“At the 7 a.m. Mass I had more penitents by the Gospel than an average Saturday,” Father Baron said. “Granted, there are usually two of us on Saturday, but there were lot of ‘thank you fathers’ for changing the weekend time.”
Father Kochivar had a similar experience; one in particular struck him the most.
“One of our home-bound parishioners, who is only able to attend Mass due to the generosity of another parishioner, found me after Mass to express her appreciation. She was ecstatic about being able to regularly avail herself of the sacrament without having to call the parish and have a priest come to her house,” he said.
A parishioner shared on Facebook that it was wonderful for her husband, who is normally too busy during the week, to be able to go to confession.
Her husband and son “both went right before Mass started last weekend, and positively loved it. . . My wiggly boy that just received First Reconciliation the week before had his best Mass yet! He was attentive and participated and barely required reminders. That dose of grace seemed to help.”
A few other diocesan parishes offer confession before Sunday Masses — in the Colorado Springs area, Holy Trinity and Immaculate Conception parishes both offer the sacrament 45 minutes before Sunday morning Masses, and Corpus Christi offers confession Sunday evenings 30 minutes before the 6 p.m. Mass. Most other parishes offer confession some time on Saturday afternoon, many before the Saturday evening vigil Mass.
For a complete list of confession schedules within the diocese, see the webpage: http://www.diocs.org/Parishes/Confession-Times.
(Linda Oppelt is administrative assistant for The Colorado Catholic Herald.)