One of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee’s most popular Lenten activities is returning for its fifth iteration.

Pray, Reconcile and Rejoice: 12 Hours of Reconciliation will be at 11 parishes throughout the archdiocese, including 10 offering confession in Spanish, on Wednesday, March 20.

Born during the planning for the archdiocese’s 175th anniversary celebrations in 2018-19, the event was first held in 2019. Other than the COVID-19 year of 2020 (in which the event was canceled one week ahead of time), the event has been held every year since.

“I met with many different groups to gather ideas for how to celebrate,” said Jenni Oliva, the Director of Archdiocesan Events and Special Projects. “I met with the deans of our deaneries, and we talked about what kind of prayer/sacramental elements we wanted to do.  From that meeting Pray, Reconcile, Rejoice was born.  It was also decided at that meeting that we would host this sacramental event later in Lent — the Wednesday before Palm Sunday was decided as a good date.  In the initial planning I think we were just looking for unique ways to celebrate the 175th anniversary.”

The event has proven very popular with priests and parishioners alike.

“In 2019, we had such an overwhelming response to this sacramental event we never thought about not doing it again,” Oliva said.

Over the years, it has become easier to recruit priests to hear confessions.

“We announce the upcoming date about 11 months in advance,” Oliva said. “It has also helped that we have tried to stick with the same day — the Wednesday before Palm Sunday.”

The convenience of having so many locations open for so many hours has proven beneficial to many Catholics, bringing them back to the sacrament, often after many years away.

“The priest is there to help you feel God’s love and mercy, and that’s nothing to be afraid of,” said Fr. Mike Wolfe.

Priests are understanding of the fact some Catholics haven’t partaken of Reconciliation in a long time, and are there to make you feel welcome, including Fr. Rick Stoffel.

“I know people who haven’t seen some friends or even family members for extended periods of time; the longer they put it off, the harder it gets. The easiest time to reconnect with Jesus in the sacrament of Reconciliation is always now, not later,” Fr. Stoffel said.

“Sometimes we lose track of an old friend,” said Fr. Dennis Saran. “When we reconnect, we find out just how much they missed us. Jesus misses you, come and talk to him.”

Fr. John LoCoco reminds Catholics they don’t have to feel completely ready to experience the sacramental grace of Reconciliation.

“Just come back. Don’t worry about preparing everything. I will help walk you through it, one commandment at a time,” Fr. LoCoco said.

For Oliva, seeing the success and growth of the event has been very rewarding.

“Of all the wonderful events and special projects I get to oversee and execute for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, I think that Pray, Reconcile and Rejoice: 12 Hours of Reconciliation is one of the most important that I do each year,” Oliva said. “It is a joy to be able to offer the sacrament in an accessible way.”

Times and Locations

Basilica of St. Josaphat, 601 W. Lincoln Ave., Milwaukee, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Spanish from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Holy Family Parish, 271 Fourth Street Way, Fond du Lac, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Spanish from 4 to 8 p.m.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish, 5400 19th Ave., Kenosha, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Spanish from 10 a.m. to noon; 4 to 6 p.m.

St. Charles Borromeo Parish, 441 Conkey St., Burlington, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Spanish from noon to 4 p.m.

St. Dominic Parish, 18255 W. Capitol Drive, Brookfield, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Spanish from 4 to 6 p.m.

St. James Parish, 830 E. Veterans Way, Mukwonago, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Spanish from 6 to 8 p.m.

St. Lucy Parish, 3101 Drexel Ave., Racine, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Spanish from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

St. Margaret Mary Parish, 3970 N. 92nd St., Milwaukee, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Spanish from 4 to 6 p.m.

St. Matthias Parish, 9306 W. Beloit Road, Milwaukee, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Spanish from 6 to 8 p.m.

St. Monica Parish, 5681 N. Santa Monica Blvd., Whitefish Bay, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Spanish from 4 to 8 p.m.

St. Peter Parish, 200 E. Washington St., Slinger, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; English only