January 24, 2014

‘The Light is On for You:’ Confession will be available across archdiocese on April 2

In this file photo, people stand in line to go to confession at Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Church in Indianapolis. From 6:30 p.m. to 8 pm. on April 2, priests will be available in churches across central and southern Indiana to celebrate the sacrament of penance with anyone who wishes to celebrate the sacrament and receive God’s mercy and forgiveness. (File photo by Sean Gallagher)

In this file photo, people stand in line to go to confession at Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Church in Indianapolis. From 6:30 p.m. to 8 pm. on April 2, priests will be available in churches across central and southern Indiana to celebrate the sacrament of penance with anyone who wishes to celebrate the sacrament and receive God’s mercy and forgiveness. (File photo by Sean Gallagher)

By Sean Gallagher

From 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. on April 2, priests will be available in churches across central and southern Indiana to celebrate the sacrament of penance with anyone who comes and wishes to experience God’s mercy and forgiveness.

The initiative, called “The Light Is on for You,” has been successfully tried during the season of Lent in many dioceses across the country. The name refers to the light that would be on in a reconciliation room when a priest is available to celebrate the sacrament.

The program has often involved all parishes in a diocese offering a period of time for the sacrament of penance on the same evening each week during Lent.

During this first time that it will occur in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, it will take place on one evening during Lent.

Bishop Christopher J. Coyne took part in it from 2008-10 when he was serving as a parish pastor in the Archdiocese of Boston.

He said that he was unsure of how it would work the first time that it was offered. As it worked out, however, many people came to confess their sins and receive God’s mercy.

“I had many priest friends say that they were in the confessional for an hour and a half to two hours beyond what the scheduled time was … ,” said Bishop Coyne. “It was very encouraging. I was pleasantly surprised at how successful ‘The Light Is on for You’ program was in the Archdiocese of Boston.

“There were some profoundly moving sacramental moments in the celebration, where people were unburdened of real brokenness and sin in their lives.”

He was also pleased by the fact that, following the introduction of “The Light Is on for You” in the Archdiocese of Boston, the number of people going to confession on a regular basis increased.

“Because people were coming to the sacrament on a much more regular basis as a result of this and because they were coming to it with a better understanding of what it is and what it isn’t,” Bishop Coyne said, “it served to encourage me in my ministry, on a human level, as the minister of the sacrament with them.”

On April 2, each parish or cluster of parishes in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis will have the sacrament of penance available from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Members of clustered parishes will be informed as to which church in the cluster the sacrament will be available.

According to Father Patrick Beidelman, executive director of the archdiocesan Secretariat for Spiritual Life and Worship, a limited number of priests in central and southern Indiana not serving in parishes will also assist with “The Light Is on for You.”

He also noted that parishes are being encouraged to make available for the five weekends in March a series of bulletin inserts that provides information about the sacrament of penance.

“I think understanding what the Church teaches about the sacrament helps us approach it in a fuller and deeper way,” Father Beidelman said. “When we understand what the Church calls us to, and we inform ourselves with that deeper understanding, I think we can have a fuller experience of God’s grace and mercy in the celebration of that sacrament.”

Father Beidelman also pointed out that, for the most part, the ordinary penance services that parishes or deaneries offer during Lent would continue.

“This additional opportunity for confession doesn’t replace what I think is best about a parish gathering for a Lenten penance service … ” he said. “That has its own character and draws a specific group of people.”

On the other hand, Father Beidelman said that the way in which the sacrament of penance is offered in “The Light Is on for You” attracts some people to the sacrament who prefer that way or who have been away from it for an extended period of time.

“The additional opportunity yields people coming to confession who haven’t in the past because of the sense that this is an opportune time,” Father Beidelman said. “They’re inspired because it is happening throughout the archdiocese. People come to it with the sense that there is wide-spread availability.”

That availability of the sacrament of penance throughout central and southern Indiana at the same time and on the same day will send a clear message about the sacrament, Father Beidelman said.

“I think it will show that we are placing a priority on it by really carving out the time in each of our parishes or cluster of parishes to say that this is so important that we’re all going to make this concerted effort to have this available,” he said. “It indicates that it’s important. We can be unified in making the opportunity, and it can be wide-spread throughout the whole of the Church in central and southern Indiana.” †

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