HARTFORD – In preparation for Easter, parishes in the Archdiocese of Hartford again are offering an expanded schedule of the sacrament of reconciliation throughout the Lenten season.
Every Monday for the six weeks of Lent (March 10 to April 14), confessions will be heard from 6-7 p.m. in every parish, in addition to the parish’s regularly scheduled times.
“The campaign was so successful in parishes last year that the decision was made to offer it again,” said Father Jeffrey V. Romans, vice chancellor for the archdiocese, who heads the 12-member archdiocesan Lenten confession committee.
Launched for last year’s Lenten season during the Year of Faith, the successful Lenten confession campaign will be promoted by billboards, radio announcements, websites and social media, as well as through reminders from the pulpit, parish bulletins, posters, banners and lawn signs.
“In the sacrament of penance,” said Archbishop Leonard P. Blair, “Jesus has given us a gift beyond price: the chance to start over with a clean slate in the eyes of God; to get up with his help when we have fallen and be given the grace to avoid even worse falls; to unburden ourselves of guilt, thanks to divine mercy.
“How many people yearn for this, and it is ours for the asking in the confessional,” he continued. “I hope that everyone will make use of the opportunity being offered to them in the archdiocese, especially on the Mondays of Lent.”
As happened during last year’s Year of Faith, the promotional campaign includes a series of 15-second radio spots that will air prior to the traffic reports of selected radio stations on the Mondays of Lent. The radio ads will start early in the morning and run until 5 p.m., directing listeners to the 6 o’clock hour of confessions.
“People today have such hectic schedules that they like to be reminded immediately,” explained Maria Zone, archdiocesan director of communications.
For additional impact, 10 billboards will be up through April 13 along I-84, I-91, I-95, Route 8, Route 202 and the Berlin Turnpike to promote the effort and to direct motorists to the website www.Light4You.info.
“Last year, we had reports that some people saw the billboards, got off at the next exit and went to church for confession; so they were very effective,” said Mrs. Zone. “Both the billboards and radio stations complement each other.”
She noted that information on the website also educates people about how to prepare for the sacrament, provides a video created by the archdiocesan Office of Radio and Television telling them what to expect when entering the confessional and offers testimonies about how people were uplifted after receiving the sacrament.
It also directs people to the 213 parishes in the archdiocese, and offers prayers and devotions.
Father Romans said several parishes last year used the hour on Monday evenings to hold eucharistic adoration, while others invited parish organizations to the church to pray for those going to confession. Some parishes continued offering confessions on Monday night year-round as a result of the campaign.
“We received so many positive stories from priests about people who were welcomed back into the church after receiving the sacrament, some after 20 years; and others who saw it as a great way to prepare for Easter,” he noted.
“People are attracted to this because of the convenience and accessibility of offering the sacrament on the way home from work or running errands,” said Father Romans. “Knowing that every parish is offering it provides them with the option of going to another parish that may be nearby.”
“But the key,” he said, “is that we saw significant numbers of people returning to the sacrament, and some even returning to the faith,” he said.