SPECIAL TO THE CATHOLIC HERALD
In its second year, Pray, Reconcile and Rejoice: 12 Hours of Reconciliation will take place from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 1, at 12 host parishes within the archdiocese.
While Masses and other large gatherings are cancelled due to the COVID-19 virus outbreak, local Catholics can still participate in this sacrament of healing and rebuilding of faith.
The Day of Reconciliations is one day a year during Lent when priests devote themselves to celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation. According to Jenni Olivia, Director—Archdiocesan Events and Special Programs, last year’s Pray, Reconcile and Rejoice was very successful.
“We had 11 sites and there were hundreds, if not thousands, of people who were able to go to confession in this one day,” she said. “It was such a successful event that the priests of the archdiocese asked to do it again.”
Each participating parish will offer several priests hearing confessions in two-hour shifts. The open-door confession style is a good way for those who may not have had time to fit in the Sacrament in their own parishes and also an easy way for those who have not gone in a while to experience God’s healing in this sacrament.
“We heard from participants that they valued the opportunity to be able to just walk into one of the hosting sites and be able to go to confession,” she said. “Some sites did have lines at some points of the day, but it did not seem like people minded waiting. I heard that some people had not been to the Sacrament of Reconciliation for many years and this opportunity gave them the chance to go.”
The sacramental event was originally developed to coincide with the 175th anniversary of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, but due to its overwhelming popularity and the ease of integrating the sacrament into an amiable setting, Olivia explained that they were encouraged to make it an annual event.
“This is why I think Pray, Reconcile and Rejoice was so successful; people were able to walk into a hosting parish and go to confession during this 12-hour window,” she said. “With many different sites, people were able to find a parish that may have been closer to their work or on their way home. I stopped at a parish that I normally don’t attend for Sunday Mass, but it was on my way home.”
Due to COVID-19, it may change on the day of the 12-hour reconciliation to solely confessions behind the screen; but generally, most parishes will offer either face-to-face, behind the screen or in a traditional confessional setting for the comfort of parishioners.
“I invite those who may have not been to the Sacrament for a while to take this opportunity to come back,” said Olivia. “All our priests are very open to helping those along in the process. Be honest when you enter the confession space. Tell the priest it may have been a while and that you need some help in the process. All parish sites will also have a ‘How to Go to Confession’ cards in the confession space. The cards have been produced in both English and Spanish.”
Seven of the parish host sites (Holy Family, Fond du Lac; St. Peter Claver, Sheboygan; Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Kenosha; Sacred Heart, Racine; St. Monica, Whitefish Bay; St. Margaret Mary, Milwaukee; and St. Charles Borromeo, Burlington) will offer confessions in both English and Spanish from 4 to 8 p.m., and Our Lady Queen of Peace, Milwaukee will offer confessions in both English and Spanish the entire 12 hours.