Day of Reconciliation on April 2 in the Diocese of Orlando brought Catholics into the confessional to receive God’s grace and forgiveness on the first day of Holy Week, 2012.
“I am very happy that we did observe the Day of Reconciliation,” said Father John O’Neil, pastor at Good Shepherd Parish in Orlando and a Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette priest. “It bore a multitude of fruit that I never expected.”
Bishop John Noonan promoted the Day of Reconciliation on a Brighthouse television commercial that aired on Central Florida News 13, the History and Hallmark Channel. During the commercial he invited Catholics within the Diocese of Orlando to journey back to God during the Lenten season. The Day of Reconciliation was an opportunity for all Catholics, including those who have been away from the confessional for many years, to experience God’s forgiveness.
Many parishes hold Lenten penance services in the weeks leading up to Easter, and Good Shepherd was no exception. The parish celebrated a Reconciliation Weekend on March 23-24, with five priests hearing confessions Saturday and four priests hearing confessions Sunday. The parish also holds confessions on Saturday afternoons throughout the year.
“Even as readily as we make available the sacrament, there is always a need,” said Father O’Neil.
On April 2, Good Shepherd offered four sessions, spaced throughout the day. During the first session, scheduled between 7 and 8:30 a.m., one priest heard 15 confessions. The second session, scheduled for 9-10 a.m., lasted an extra 30 minutes, while the third session, scheduled for noon-1 p.m., lasted an extra 10 minutes. Two priests heard confessions nonstop between 7-9 p.m., the fourth and final session.
Bishop John Noonan requested that all parishes participate in the Day of Reconciliation, and offer at least a half hour of confessions. Some parishes, like St. Anthony Parish in Lakeland, held all-day sessions. The day also offered an opportunity for students at parishes with schools to participate in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.