Portable confessional strengthens faith of La Salle High School students
March 5, 2012
By Mike Dyer
The recent construction and installation of a portable confessional at La Salle High School has brought many faith-filled benefits to the students.
Anthony Thornbury, a member of the Men of the Sacred Heart and of the Knights of Columbus La Salle Council 5621, was one of the individuals instrumental in helping raise funding for the confessional.
Thornbury, a member of St. Ignatius Loyola Parish in Monfort Heights, said the Men of Sacred Heart were given a tour of the De La Salle chapel and noticed the need for a confessional.
Father Shawn Landenwitch, a La Salle religion teacher and resident priest who also serves at St. Ann Parish in Groesbeck, was able to determine the basic specifications for the confessional and it was constructed at the Holy Spirit Center in Norwood for the cost of materials. The center has a woodshop with a couple of carpenters who volunteered their time for the project.
“They did an excellent job,” Thornbury said of the construction effort.
Thornbury said after the cost estimates were figured, the Knights of Columbus contributed $350 and the Men of the Sacred Heart gave $370. The confessional was delivered to the school in November.
Jeromy Alt, who is grand knight of the Knights of Columbus Council 5621, said the council has been supportive of past programs with La Salle and the Knights were “immediately in support” of the idea for the new confessional.
“Our council thought the idea was great (for the confessional) to be constructed locally at the Holy Spirit Center,” Alt said. “The Holy Spirit Center is a tremendous facility supporting Sacred Heart Radio, Men of the Sacred Heart, many retreats and has much the same focus of the Knights of Columbus. To be able to have this produced locally was an added bonus to the project. This is the first portable confessional we have been a part of purchasing and donating.”
Father Landenwitch, who has been at La Salle since the fall of 2009, wrote a letter to the Men of the Sacred Heart, the Knights of Columbus and the Holy Spirit Center thanking them for their efforts. “Father Shawn is a good holy priest,” Thornbury said.
“I see the hand of God at work in these events,” Father Landenwitch said. “Christ desires for us to experience His mercy in confession and He is providing the means necessary to make it happen. That includes the efforts of the Men of the Sacred Heart, the carpenters at the Holy Spirit Center, and most importantly, the conversion that is going on in the hearts of the students at La Salle.”
La Salle’s penance service before Christmas had more than 200 students in attendance. The school also offers daily Mass and weekly opportunities for reconciliation.
“The number of students taking advantage of the sacrament of confession has increased dramatically since we began using the new confessional,” said Father Landenwitch. “I am amazed by the graces and spiritual growth that I witness coming forth from these confessions. More and more of our Lancers are experiencing the mercy and healing power of Jesus Christ in this sacrament, and that experience is truly transforming lives and hearts.”
The portable confessional is designed for face-to-face reconciliation and also features the option for an individual to go behind the screen in the chapel.
Thornbury, a treasurer for the Men of the Sacred Heart, has been a member of the group since the 1970s. The non-profit organization sells religious articles to help with its projects. He said the Cincinnati chapter was founded in the 1960s.
Thornbury said he was very glad to be a part of the confessional project and believes in its significance for the students. “If we save one soul it is worth it,” he said.
Alt also believes the effort was well worth it and said the Knights of Columbus is built on the foundations of charity, unity, fraternity and patriotism and that it is “very important that Catholic men provide good examples to our young men and be supportive of their faith formation and Catholic principles.”
“One of the best ways we can do that is to support and assist with their Sacramental responsibilities,” Alt continued.“These young men are going through a time in life where there are many obstacles and difficult decisions to be made. To have any opportunity to have access to the sacraments to strengthen their resolve and help them on their faith journey is well worth our efforts. We believe this confessional will simply provide another avenue for this development. If we can assist these young men in becoming strong Catholic men as they leave high school, we are helping build a stronger foundation for God’s word in this world and assisting them in becoming strong in their vocation, whatever it may be.”