DIOCESE—“I think it’s fabulous,” said one parishioner, who was among a stream of penitents at St. Patrick Church in Rochelle, after receiving the sacrament of reconciliation on Be Reconciled Day, April 5.
The special day gives people an extra push, she said. “It’s good to have a day set aside to go to confession. I heard Bishop Malloy on the radio talking about it, and I just came.”
This was the fourth year for Be Reconciled Day, an effort that asks priests of the diocese to keep that day open for confessions, requesting they be offered from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. It takes place each year on the Wednesday before Holy Week. The hope is that persons who have not received the sacrament for many years will welcome the chance to come at a time convenient to them.
This year, it was a rainy and cold day, but despite the inclement weather, a steady crowd of people arrived throughout the day for confession at St. Thomas More Catholic Church in Elgin, according to Sharon Hall, director of evangelization.
Bishop David Malloy has his own “parishioners” to attend to on this special day.
“I personally heard confessions for inmates at the Dixon Correctional Center so that Be Reconciled Day could reach out to those who could not come,” he says.
“Many reports have suggested that a very good number of faithful turned out and, in a number of cases, our priests had to hear confessions beyond the scheduled closing hour.”
That was the experience at St. Mary Parish in Sterling, whose priests both heard confessions until 8:20 p.m.
The Sterling Deanery parishes provide regular penance services during Lent, Father James Keenan, pastor of St. Mary Parish and Dean of the deanery, says. He adds that the priests did hear confessions from a “handful” of people who seemed to have been away from the sacrament of reconciliation for a long time.
“That’s the benefit,” he says. “They can come in, go to confession and leave. In that regard, it was a success.”
“Together, as a Diocese, the goal of this effort is to help the faithful prepare for Easter and Be Reconciled to Jesus and the Church,” Bishop Malloy says. “I am grateful to the priests of the Diocese of Rockford who made great efforts to hear so many confessions during our recent Be Reconciled Day. I am grateful to God for all the graces we received during this day.”