HARTFORD – The billboards are back.
And so are the radio spots, lawn signs, articles like this one in The Catholic Transcript, and the attention-grabbers on Facebook and websites – all inviting you to take advantage of the sacrament of reconciliation during one extra hour per week, Mondays from 6-7 p.m., during Lent.
Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 18. Mondays in Lent are Feb. 23 and March 2, 16, 23 and 30. The extra hours on these days are in addition to each parish’s regular schedule of confessions.
Father Christopher M. Tiano, director of the Office of Religious Education and Evangelization, this year heads a six-member committee of priests coordinating the archdiocesan-wide campaign to ensure that priests will be available to hear confessions during those extra hours. Other committee members are Fathers Michael J. Dolan, Jeffrey A. Gubbiotti, Daniel J. McLearen, Marcin P. Pluciennik and Anthony J. Smith.
Father Tiano said, “Lent is the traditional time of repentance. It’s also the time when people themselves are thinking about the relationship with God and the relationship with the church.”
He said that confession is an important sacrament throughout the liturgical year, but it is stressed during Lent because that is when people’s minds often “turn towards the Lord.”
“So you’re driving down the highway when you see a billboard that says confessions are going on; and you know it’s Lent, and you know it’s time for an overhaul, if you will – or checking in with God and making sure that you’re doing all right – and it impels people to go to confession,” Father Tiano said.
The lawn signs and billboards display an inviting message, reminding people, “The light is on for you.” Father Tiano said this acts as a gentle reminder to people who may have slipped away from the regular habit of going to reconciliation. “This program gives us an opportunity to remind them in a gentle way that it’s available,” he said.
Father Smith said that in the two previous years the archdiocese has offered extra hours for confessions in Lent, many priests have reported staying in the confessional for two hours or longer, well past the scheduled hour. This is a sign that the program is working, he said.
Complete information on the Lenten confession program is on www.light4you.info, where a statement by Archbishop Leonard P. Blair reads, in part: “The Archdiocese of Hartford is happy to provide weekly Lenten Confessions again this year, as a way for Catholics to prepare for Easter.
... The Confessions are designed to make it simple for you to drive to any church in the Archdiocese of Hartford on your way home from work, or on your way from running errands and receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It’s also a way to welcome those who have not received the Sacrament in a while back to the Church to experience God’s forgiveness.”
The website also offers help on how to examine one’s conscience, how to find a church in the archdiocese and other information.