How long is your confession line?

How long is your confession line? November 5, 2011

That’s the interesting question that Rambling Follower is asking this weekend — and the RF provides one answer from her own experience:

Over the past month, at our new parish, we have encountered something new: long lines for the confessional. The other week, it took me more than an hour to have my turn. This morning, we figured we’d be smart and get a jumpstart on the regulars by showing up 10 minutes early, before the pastor began offering the sacrament. Not early enough: already the nuns were ahead of us in line, along with a handful of other folks. (As an aside, my husband is one of those people who always runs into someone he knows, no matter where we go in the world. Today it was a fellow coach he ran into in the confession line before we bailed for lunch.)

After we feasted on stromboli, we walked back to the church. There still was a line, with new faces. A  few older men, college students, some young women. People of various races, all waiting for a moment to unburden ourselves of our sins. It still took an hour.

At my parish, there’s always a line.  We have confession six days a week.  But I never go at my parish; I head into Manhattan, to St. Francis of Assisi. They have Reconciliation every day — including all day Saturday, and part of Sunday — and I’ve never not had to wait in line for 10 or 15 minutes, at least.

How about you?

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23 responses to “How long is your confession line?”

  1. We have confessions six days a week (twice on Saturday). I’ve been surprised at how busy it has been since I was ordained two years ago. (I wonder if the economy has anything to do with it?)

  2. At my parish, we have confession for a half hour before every Mass – daily, Sunday, Holy Day, etc. There are a few exceptions, but I can’t remember them. There is always a line, but I’ve never had to wait for more than 20 or so minutes. I find it encouraging to see so many people in line before Mass. Our pastor encourages it and has made it convenient to get to by making it so available. If you offer it, they will come!

  3. At my parish we only have the sacrament offered before mass on Saturday and Sunday. We do not have a church building, we turn a public elementary school cafeteria into what my pastor calls a churchateria. Most of our ministry is outreach…we do have penance services during Advent and Lent or other special occassions; but the setting of the school and when we are in the building only allows us to have it on the weekend. Fr David is alsways available at the Rectory to talk to parishioners when needed…we also have to pay rent to use the school facility…

    Deacon Miguel
    Orlando, Fl

  4. Here we live in an another wolrd! 500 mile north of New-York City, where 60 years ago population was 98.9 % catholic, confessionals are closed a long time ago. We have what we call reconcialition day before Xmas and Easter and 25 persons usely come. But in the monasteries and all pilgramage sanctuaries confession still going strong. When we go to U.S.A specially in the south, and we see churches full 3 and 4 times sunday, we ask ourselves if we are in another planet.
    Yes friends, that is the poor state of the Catholic Chuch in Quebec, Canada. Please pray for us.
    Frank the deacon.

  5. My neighborhood parish only has 1/2 an hour once a week or appt. A Dominican church near me though which draws from all over, has confession daily,
    Monday-Saturday 11:30 AM-12 Noon
    Saturday 4:15-4:45 PM
    There is always a line, refreshing nowadays, and they usually have 2 Friars, sometimes one. During Lent though, they will have 3 or 4 as it gets closer to Easter and the lines are very long.

  6. Depending on when I get there, 3-15 minutes wait. At my parish, offered on Saturday afternoons for 45 minutes, but we live in a small town with 5 Catholic Churches and a small Catholic university–there is reconciliation offered every day, if you know where to go (and it is posted in our bulletins). I don’t typically confess at the university, but I know lines are longer there.

  7. There is never a line at our parish. Confession is offered once a week 3 – 3:30 pm on SAT. I think people view confession as a thing of the past. It is sad.

  8. I always have to smile when I hear individuals decrying the lack of participation in confession. It usually comes from someone whose parish doesn’t offer it. My parish has daily confessions and there is always a line. People come from the parishes that don’t offer it. It has been my experience that if you let Catholics practice their faith, theywill. This also seems to me to be part of the overall increase in the Catholic world of returning to the more orthodox. The religious orders that wear habits have more women becoming nuns. The monasteries are seeing an increase in individuals desiring to be monks. There is a hunger out there let us not dismiss it.

  9. So do I. But on the occasion when I do not I usually get there well before confessions time. Still, there may be a few people who arrive early waiting to see which priest shows up for confession. Our confessions are usually before the Saturday evening Mass and I do notice a line when I arrive at the church if going to that Mass.

  10. At my parish (Holy Rosary in Indianapolis,, confession is offered daily for 30 minutes before daily Mass and 45 before a Sunday Mass. There can be a pretty good line on Sunday morning. When the parish church had work done to it a few years back, another confessional was added (build it and they will come…). The bulletin there lists how many people went to confession in the previous week. The most recent bulletin (for Oct. 30) had the figure at 71.

    The priests who have served there recently attribute the regular use of that sacrament there to, one, the active faith of the parishioners and then to their regular availability for it and their preaching about it fairly regularly at Mass.

  11. One other thing. There’s a downtown parish in Indy–St. John the Evangelist (–that has confession from 11:15-12:00 noon M-Sat. If you want to take advantage of that on a weekday, you often have to get there by 11:00 or you’ll be out of luck. The line builds up that early. There’s a 12:10 Mass there and the priest hearing confessions is ordinarily the celebrant.

    Sometimes, he’ll tell the people left in line at 12:00 that he’ll hear their confessions after Mass if they can wait.

    I don’t think people in Indy are any more inclined to go to confession than in other cities. I think in the case of Holy Rosary and St. John that people go there for confession in a lot of races because, one, there are a lot of people who work in the downtown and so avail themselves of the churches close by for confession. And, two, a lot of those downtown workers go to parishes where the relatively little amount of time in which priest are in the confessional might be inconventient for them (late on a Saturday afternoon).

    That’s not necessarily being critical of those priests in parishes that have only a relatively small amount of time in confessionals. They’re busy. It would be good, though, to reflect upon how we could encourage more people to go to confession. If there was a demand for it, I think more priests would make more time for it.

  12. The bulletin there lists how many people went to confession in the previous week. The most recent bulletin (for Oct. 30) had the figure at 71.

    I’ve never heard of a parish doing anything like that before. Is that the sort of thing a priest should be counting and publishing?

  13. Deacon frank:

    I have no idea what it is like now but back in the 80’s and 90’s, Sacred Heart Parish in Okeechobee Florida had six Masses on Sunday: four in English; one in Spanish and one in French. During my last visit, I found a Mass time that I thought was most convenient for my personal vacation schedule only to find myself at the “Francophone” one. I do not know French at all but my extensive training in Latin and Spanish helped me with the responses at that Mass. To this day, I still remain surprised about not only how crowded it was but how extensively French-speaking Canadians have settled in central Florida. Red Maple Leaf flags fly everywhere and several large motor home parks advertise their “Francophone” orientation.

  14. Different twist.

    Deacons cannot absolve sins in the name of the Church but we can “preside” at a Penance Service. I have done that twice in recent years and some of the priest-confessors tell their penitent to come over and have me pray over them as part of their “penance.”

    Last one of these I did was a multi-parish Mission. Probably two hundred folks in attendance at that Penance Service. I did have a steady but small line at my “prayer-station.”

  15. Two things I noticed when I came back to the Church in 2008 after a 40-year hiatus is that just about everyone was going to Holy Communion in long lines and very few people were in “line” for confession.

    I attend three different churches a couple of times a week depending on my mood, and at one of the three, there is seldom a line of more than three going to confession but recently more people seem to be going to the Sacrament at that church. Of the three parishes I frequent, this is the only one in which the priest from the pulpit mentions regularly the word “sin” and the need for confession. He is 80 years old and shows no desire to retire. It was his preaching that brought me back to the church. It didn’t hurt either that he first converted my Methodist mother-in-law and wife. I was then the odd-man out, in more ways than one, and had to do something.

    At the other two parishes, homilies invariably address the scriptures but I don’t recall the word “sin” being used even though the Pharisees and Sadducees take it on the chin regularly. They appear to have had problems greater than the people in the pews today. I don’t think I have ever left these two churches motivated to shape up although I have learned a lot more than I knew about the bible, a book we seldom read in Catholic schools back in the Fifties.

    At the church where the 80-year-old priest regularly addresses sin, I have no problem realizing that even when I am not in the state of mortal sin, it wouldn’t hurt for me to go to confession. For me confession is more than chicken soup for the soul after a life spent playing dodge ball with the devil.

    It appears now that many people go to Holy Communion every Sunday but without benefit of confession unless they seek out the sacrament at a different church. Prior to Vatican Council II, my experience was that quite a few people did not go to Holy Communion on a regular basis and more than one priest heard confessions on Saturday and there were lines.

    Back then, of course, most folks were products of orthodox Catholic schools which taught on a regular basis that one had to be in the state of Sanctifying Grace to receive Holy Communion and to avoid Hell. I’m not sure that many Catholics today could tell you the difference between Sanctifying Grace and Actual Grace but when I see them in church they seem happier than the folks that I remember back in the Fifties. Of course, back then the Sign of Peace was not part of the Mass and there was less opportunity for smiles, waving and brief howdies.

    If it were not for the Real Presence and the Sacrament of Confession, I don’t know that I would have ever returned to the Church. At the same time, however, I would never have attended a Protestant service simply because of the absence of those two sacraments. That ancient priest who bellows about sin regularly saved me. I will miss him terribly when he retires.

  16. That’s too funny! I wonder why that was a penance. Was it because they don’t like the idea of deacons (nothing personal)?

  17. We have confessions for an hour with a 30 minute break before the Saturday Vigil Mass. Confession is also available by appointment. Usually, it varies from no one being there to a few ahead in line. However, as the major Church solemnities approach, there are considerably more waiting. Also, penance services are offered or middle of the week confessions during Advent/Lent with additional times added right before the Solemnities. Kids are afforded the opportunity to celebrate the sacrament before First Holy Communion and Confirmation (during Confirmation retreats). It’s very busy for a one priest parish, even when others help out.

  18. Around here I know not to go to confession the Saturday before First Friday; there will always be a long line. The Saturday following that there is usually not that much of a wait.

  19. Notgiven
    Apology accepted and not to worry — I don’t take things like that personally. In our immediate area, we have had deacons since 1974 and today the three parishes in our town have four active deacons and four on Senior/Emeritus status to minister to slightly over 9,000 “head-count” in those parishes. Folks are used to deacons presiding at Baptisms and Weddings, preaching the Gospel at all week-end masses, and visiting their family members in our one hospital and ten nursing homes. They are just not used to them at Penance Services.

  20. I always wait 1 hour. If I go early or late: 1 hour. If there are 12 people in front of me or 3 little old ladies: 1 hour. I just resigned myself to it. When I lived in a city, I would always go to the downtown cathedral during the week; the wait was usually 15 minutes. When I lived in a way-out place, the priest always had confession right before mass on Sunday for the people who couldn’t get there during the week. That was nice and appreciated. I skip reconciliation services. It’s like a mob at Walmart on Black Friday.

  21. This is a practice that was instituted by the former pastor of Holy Rosary. I always look upon it as a great tool and something that, in its way, could be used to persuade priests, who might not have confessions very often, to do a bit of re-evaluation. No one has ever made any objection to its inclusion in the bulletin. It’s there with Mass attendance and with collection totals. I look with pride on it, actually. It tells me that confession IS useful and that people, despite the “oh, there’s no such thing as sin” that we hear these days, WANT to go to confession.

  22. The following excerpt from the Catechism of the Catholic Church surprised me when I read it a few years ago. Perhaps, it might be relevant to the discussion on this post, “How long is your confession line?”

    “As bodily nourishment restores lost strength, so the Eucharist strengthens our charity, which tends to be weakened in daily life; and this living charity wipes away venial sins” (CCC 1394).

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