Archdiocese one-day confession event March 18
By John Stegeman
The Catholic Telegraph
One catechetical joke asks the question, “What is the difference between a sinner and a saint?
The answer — confession.
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “after having attained the age of discretion, each of the faithful is bound by an obligation faithfully to confess serious sins at least once a year.”
The sacrament of reconciliation is available regularly or by appointment in all parishes, but in an effort to encourage greater participation in the sacrament, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati is sponsoring, “The Light is on for You.”
“The Light is on for You” will be one night — March 18 from 7-9 p.m. — where every single parish will have lights on and doors open to offer the sacrament of reconciliation.
All 213 parishes of the archdiocese are scheduled to participate. Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr and Auxiliary Bishop Joseph R. Binzer will be among the priests conferring absolution that night.
At churches that are part of pastoral regions, every effort will be made to have a priest at each church available. Where that is not possible, parishes are encouraged to publicize the information in their bulletins, online and with signage directing penitents to the the nearest participating church.
The impetus behind the all-out-push for a return to the confessional came from Archbishop Schnurr as a successor of sorts to the archdiocese’s previous efforts to reach lapsed Catholics. The archdiocese purchased airtime to run Catholics Come Home commercials from mid-December 2012 to late-January 2013. That Christmas, the archdiocese also sponsored a book giveaway at parishes.
“It was (Archbishop Schnurr’s) idea,” said Sean Ater, director of the New Evangelization Office. “It is connected to the New Evangelization so the whole idea is ‘How do we invite people who have been away from the sacrament of reconciliation to come back and have a good experience of healing and conversion and the grace of God?'”
Billboards went up in mid-February and radio promos will soon be heard promoting the “The Light is on for You.” Residents will also get a postcard, and soon special inserts about the sacrament will be appearing in parish bulletins.
“The Light is on for You” is more than just advertising and availability, however. The Archdiocesan Worship Office has worked to update existing materials that provide catechesis on the sacrament of reconciliation and how to make a good confession. Those will be distributed through bulletins, brochures and a website, LightIson4you.com. There are resources on that website for the returning penitent, as well as for pastors and staff preparing for March 18.
“The idea is to give a little more catechesis than we have over the past several years about the sacrament of reconciliation,” Worship office Director Karen Kane said. “Pope Francis is very encouraging of people participating in the sacrament.
“His whole point, and our point as well, is to invite people to experience the love and mercy of God through the sacrament of reconciliation,” she added.
“The Light is on for You” is not a Cincinnati-only initiative. Previous diocese, such as Washington D.C., and Baltimore, have had similar campaigns by the same name. In those dioceses, Kane said, parishes participated weekly throughout Lent.
“Here in the archdiocese we decided to try it one night, March 18, along with highlighting other celebrations” she said. “The Archdiocese of Cincinnati has a very fine record with our communal penance services during Advent and Lent. People have made great use of those communal penance services.”
Kane suggested that others, like those who attend confession regularly, could still pay a visit to their parish on March 18 to offer silent prayer.
The campaign is being jointly promoted and operated by the archdiocesan Offices of Stewardship, New Evangelization and Worship. The Light is On for You was paid for by donations to the 2013 Catholic Ministries Appeal.