March 18, 2014 // Local

Evening of mercy called success, opportunities still abound

The Light is On For You is being championed as another success in parishes across the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend. Still, priests encourage the faithful and those who have fallen away from the sacrament of Reconciliation that the welcome extends through the Lenten season and beyond.

Father John Delaney, the pastor of St. Jude Parish in South Bend, told Today’s Catholic that he felt the evening offering was a success and he was busy the entire time with 15 to 16 penitents.

He said all were “very good Confessions — thoughtful and prepared, conscientious, sometimes tearful, but all good.”

Father Glenn Kohrman, pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Elkhart, noted that he and Father Matthew Coonan, parochial vicar, had people coming for almost the whole period.

Father Dave Ruppert, pastor of St. Anthony de Padua Parish, South Bend, said, “More people definitely came this year than last year. I believe people are more familiar with the Light Is On For You this year after beginning it last year. I’d say we had at least twice as many people.”

Conventual Franciscan Father Fred Pasche, pastor of St. Anthony of Padua in Angola, said, “The most encouraging aspect about the Light Is On For You was the number of people who took advantage of the opportunity for Reconciliation. Out of the two hours, I had about 10 minutes free.”

But Father Pasche and other priests want Catholics still interested in receiving the sacrament of Reconciliation to know that Reconciliation is still available for them.

Father Delaney noted, “Our Lord doesn’t wait for the (USCCB or the diocese) to have a special evening planned in order to be the ‘God who waits for our return.’ Come anytime!”

Father Glenn Kohrman commented, “The great gift that Confession is — on the authority of the Bible John 20:19 and almost 2,000 years of apostolic tradition — God gave us the gift to hear, ‘I absolve you from your sins,’ as humans, and it helps us greatly to avail ourselves to the grace of the sacrament.”

Lent is “a 40-day-plus season and there are penance services going on all over the city,” Father Delaney reminded the faithful, “and a call to any parish will tell you when theirs is, or a phone call to any parish will also tell you when their usual times are and you can put it into your own schedule with ease.”

Father Ruppert noted many parishes still have Penance services scheduled with a number of priests present all at once. “It can make it easier to come to a communal penance service with a number of people due to some anonymity as well as strength in numbers, in realizing that you’re not the only sinner out there,” he said.

To those who have stopped practicing their faith, Father Delaney noted, “For all the criticisms people have as to why they may have fallen away, that’s just part of the human element within the Church or anywhere else that serves us as humans, no matter what organization.”

He said, “Put that aside and go for all the right reasons, which are many, and the benefits far outweighing any shortcomings of the few.”

Some of those benefits are “community, regularly scheduled opportunities to hear the Word proclaimed and explained, extending your family, making good friends who strive after the same values you do, (and) certainly the special graces and ways in which Our Lord Himself wanted to nourish us along our journey in life, and much more,” Father Delaney said. “Those are always there for you no matter what one individual or ‘rule’ or teaching is in place that you may not like or understand or agree with. You may learn that you don’t have all the right answers and that there is a reason that is beyond you as to why a teaching is in place.”

“Open yourself to it,” Father Delaney encouraged. “It has to do with a journey with God, so it cannot help but be rewarding.”



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