ST. FRANCIS — Eleven parishes in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee are participating in a pilot program this Lent designed to invite Catholics who have been away from the sacrament of confession to return to it.

Titled “He is Waiting,” the program is the brainchild of Rich Harter, director of the archdiocese’s office of evangelization.

While it is similar to another program, “The Light is On For You,” that originated in the Archdiocese of Washington and is used in several dioceses throughout the United States, the Milwaukee program is different thematically and structurally.

“I want ‘He is Waiting’ to be a personal, warm Jesus-focused experience, whether the person is receiving the sacrament of confession or kneeling before Jesus in the tabernacle,” Harter said.

The structure of the program includes voluntary participation by parishes.

 “We’re following the Theology on Tap model, where parishes are willing to be engaged in the program,” he said.
Harter noted that “He is Waiting” is “not the parish’s communal reconciliation service.”

“Our target is Catholics who haven’t been to confession in awhile,” he said. “We’re seeking folks who need to find a simple path back to church and the sacrament.”

In developing “He is Waiting,” Harter consulted with a “selected sampling of pastors” and “field tested” it with every pastor in the archdiocese. His intention was to remove what he termed “barriers” that kept people from receiving the sacrament of reconciliation.

“Tangible things like when to go and where to go that might be keeping them from the sacrament,” Harter said.
He noted that Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan called Eucharist and reconciliation the “sacraments of the new evangelization.”

“These are seen as positive, holy points of entry of encountering Jesus Christ in the church,” Harter said.  

After Lent, he and the parishes involved in “He is Waiting” will evaluate the program. Based upon their findings, Harter hopes to expand the program.

“I’d like to see one host site in every district,” he said.

Where ‘He is Waiting’

Eleven parishes are participating in the pilot program, “He is Waiting,”  and will offer the sacrament of reconciliation on Tuesdays, March 11, 18 and 25, and April 1 and 8, unless otherwise noted.
■ Christ King, 2604 Swan Blvd., Wauwatosa, 6:30 – 7:30 p.m.
■ Gesu, 1145 W. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee, 6:30 – 7:30 p.m.
■ St. Anne, 9091 Prairie Ridge Blvd., Pleasant Prairie, 6-7 p.m., March 11, 25 and April 8
■ St. Anthony, 2223 51st St., Kenosha, 6-7 p.m., March 18 and April 1
■ St. Charles Borromeo, 5571 S. Marilyn St., Milwaukee, 6:30-7:30
■ St. Eugene, 7600 N. Port Washington Road, Fox Point, 6:30-7:30 p.m.
■ St. Frances Cabrini, 1025 S. 7th Ave., West Bend, 6:30-7:30 p.m.
■ St. Jerome, 995 S. Silver Lake Road, Oconomowoc, 6:30-7:30 p.m.
■ St. Monica, 160 E. Silver Spring Drive, Whitefish Bay, 6:30-7:30 p.m.
■ St. Mary, N89W16297 Cleveland Ave., Menomonee Falls, 6:30-7:30 p.m.
■ Holy Rosary, 2224 45th St., Kenosha, 5:45-6:30 p.m.