This Advent every parish church of the Diocese of Lancaster will be open on Wednesday evening between 7pm and 8pm with priests waiting to hear peoples’ confessions.
This is the second time Bishop Campbell has launched the diocese-wide, high-profile The Light is ON for YOU! following the success of this initiative in Lent 2012. Then priests reported that Catholics who had been away from Church for up to twenty, even thirty years, came to confession and returned to the practice of the Faith. Many priests also reported an increase in the numbers of regular Mass-going Catholics returning to confession after many years.
Father Robert Billing, the co-ordinator of ‘The Light Is ON for YOU! said, ‘ The Light is ON for YOU! is part of the Diocese of Lancaster’s determination to reach out to those who have wandered away from the life of the Church and also to those Mass going Catholics who have been away from Confession for some years. There are two reasons for the success of The Light is ON for YOU! The generosity of the priests who sit in their confessionals every Wednesday evening waiting for penitents to come to receive Christ’s healing forgiveness. And the other reason is the diocese’s use of local newspapers and radio as well as the new media to get the message out there that the light is on for Catholics to return home, where they will receive a very warm and sincere welcome. They’ve been sorely missed.’
Every Wednesday of Advent; 5, 12 and 19 December 2012 every Catholic parish church in the Diocese of Lancaster will be open and a priest available from 7.00 p.m. to 8.00 p.m. for Catholics to go to Confession.
Bishop Michael Campbell of Lancaster says, “Confession gives us the chance to start over, to hit the ‘reset’ button of our lives. Now is the time to come and have God take away the burdens of guilt that can often weigh us down. During the recent Synod on the New Evangelisation and the Transmission of the Faith I spoke about our diocese’s experience of The Light is ON for YOU! initiative. I am convinced that making the sacrament of confession more available is an essential element of the New Evangelisation. There are so many people out there in the community suffering from the wounds of sin and the burden of unforgiven guilt. I was so pleased when I saw that one of the propositions presented to the Holy Father at the close of the synod expressed the importance of the sacrament of confession to the New Evangelisation.”
Proposition 33 on the Sacrament of Penance and the New Evangelisation states: ‘The Synod Fathers ask that this sacrament be put again at the centre of the pastoral activity of the Church…Every priest should consider the Sacrament of Penance an essential part of his ministry and of the New Evangelisation, and in every parish community a suitable time should be set apart for hearing confessions.’
The Light Is ON For YOU! section of the diocesan website has been recently added which includes information on the Sacrament of Confession including various Examinations of Conscience, the Act of Contrition, videos about the sacrament, and parish resources for promoting the initiative.