The statistics may not overwhelm you, but the trend at Corpus Christi parish in Round Lake, N.Y., should. The number of people seeking confession has doubled in recent months. What brought about the change? The pastor is talking about the reality of sin and reminding his parishioners that reconciliation is a "welcoming sacrament." Go figure. So simple, yet so powerful.
From a story by Angela Cave in this week's Evangelist:
His homilies must be working: For the past month, Rev. James Clark has been hearing twice the number of confessions he normally hears at Corpus Christi parish in Round Lake.
The pastor’s Saturday hours for the sacrament of reconciliation were previously 3 to 3:30 p.m. — half an hour before the vigil Mass. But when the number of penitents grew from four to about eight each week, that became a problem.
“It was pushing me at the other end because I couldn’t get ready for Mass,” Father Clark explained.
Reconciliation now starts at 2:30 p.m. More people are seeking the sacrament during the week, too, the pastor said: “I have people who just pop their head in and say, ‘Hi, do you have a minute?’”
In the story, Father Clark also hits upon something I stress when I give my "Lost Generation" workshops on the problem of adult Catholics separated from the Church. The move away from regular confession and even regular Mass attendance coincided with a move away from the parish -- literally. Back in the days, people were so connected to the life of their parish they identified themselves by where they worshiped even more than where they lived. The parish church played a central role in the lives of Catholics, like a second home. Today that role has been usurped by soccer leagues, dance schools, country clubs and more, compounded by the move of families out of cities and into the suburbs where they are more isolated from one another and their local parishes.
But sometimes, as with so many things regarding parish life and faith, people are just waiting for an invitation, a reminder, a lesson they haven't heard in a while. And Father Clark recognized that.
More from the Evangelist story:
“We don’t talk about sin anymore,” Father Clark lamented. “We just forget about it. But sin is part of life. Priests need to make an effort to convey that to people.”
...The sacrament of reconciliation “is just one more visible sign that God loves us,” he remarked. “We need that voice hearing that our sins are forgiven.”
Read the full story HERE.