On Saturday I turned up at a suburban church in Melbourne at 9:50am where the Sacrament of Reconciliation was advertised at 9:30am. I found the church deserted except for one parishioner who informed me that Father had returned to the presbytery as there was no one waiting for confession at 9:30am. He said that I was welcome to go and knock on the presbytery door and request the sacrament.
I declined the invitation for the simple reason that I had wished to make an “anonymous” confession, which is my right. I usually go to confession either at the Cathedral or at St Mary’s Star of the Sea in West Melbourne. Both places use the traditional confessional box, and are also very reliable in terms of the priest being available in the box at the advertised time. I don’t go to my parish priest for confession precisely because they don’t use a confessional box and “anonymous” confession is not possible. Call me funny, but don’t call me non-Catholic. I just don’t like making face to face confessions to priests with whom I have personal or working relationships. I hope you can understand why.
My point in saying this is: Would it be helpful and would it encourage a greater use of this sacrament if we had some better information on the practice of Reconciliation in our local parishes? Ie. Would you be encouraged to make use of the sacrament if you knew that:
1) Confession could be made anonymously? (ie. that the confessional box with grill or viel is used.)
2) that the priest can be relied upon to be there at least for the next hour following the advertised time?
3) if the Confession were offered regularly and more often than just on Saturday mornings after mass?
If I had the time, I would conduct some sort of survey of parishes to find out how they offer the Sacrament of Reconciliation, but for the moment, perhaps if you have had any good experiences in this regard, you might be able to recommend a parish that fits the bill?
To start the ball rolling, I recommend St Patrick’s Cathedral (where they have confession for one hour from Midday to 1pm every weekday except Monday as well as weekends) and St Mary’s West Melbourne (where they have confession every weekday from 12noon to 12:30 and 1pm to 1:30pm as well as weekends).