Priests in one archdiocese are reporting more people celebrating the sacrament:
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops voted in November to make confession a priority nationwide for this pastLent. At the time, Roman Catholic leaders in the Archdiocese of Hartford were already preparing a Lenten campaign of their own.
The archdiocese this year publicized its call to confession on 12 radio stations and on billboards, social media and a website, light4you.info. Promotional materials were sent to its churches in Hartford, New Haven and Litchfield counties, translated into Spanish and Polish for some parishes.
The Rev. Jeffrey Romans, assistant chancellor of the archdiocese, said that as part of the campaign, each of the 213 churches in the archdiocese had at least one priest hearing confessions at exactly the same hour: Mondays from 6 to 7 p.m. Traditionally, confessions are heard Saturday afternoons.
The goal was to re-establish contact, and a habit, with the faithful who were either too busy on Saturdays or too intimidated to get back to the confessional, said Maria Zone, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese.
“Generally, feedback was very positive,” she said. “People away from the sacrament for a while came back.” Some, she said, had been away for decades.
Romans said that although no one kept numbers on attendance, parish priests have told him that lines were common and that high turnout kept them there after 7 p.m. Some parishes are now considering Monday night confessions monthly or weekly as a matter of routine, he said.
It’s hard to know just how many Catholics go to confession these days. A 2008 poll by Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University found that nearly half the Catholics surveyed nationwide say they never go to confession. Only one in four said they go once a year or more. In the Northeast, it was closer to one in five.