During this Year of Faith, the US Catholic Bishops are affirming the Holy Father’s invitation to organize “penitential celebrations, particularly during Lent, in which all can ask for God’s forgiveness, especially for sins against faith.” The Bishops encourage Catholics to make going to Confession a significant part of their spiritual lives.
The Bishop’s Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis issued a letter titled, God’s Gift of Forgiveness: A Pastoral Exhortation on the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation.
The letter states, "The Church encourages frequent confession in order to grow closer to Christ Jesus and his Body, the Church. By the grace of the Holy Spirit, we seek forgiveness and repentance, let go of patterns of sin, grow in the life of virtue, and witness to a joyful conversion." Since the graces of the sacrament are so similar to the purpose of the New Evangelization, Pope Benedict XVI has said, “The New Evangelization ... begins in the confessional!”
Lent, a season of penance and prayer, is an ideal time to focus on the Sacrament of Penance. “We know that Reconciliation as a Sacrament is so essentially helpful to become close to Christ, said Sister Rose Marie Adams, I.H.M., Executive Director of Catholic Formation and Evangelization Resources. “We’re asking the faithful to take the opportunity to participate in that Sacrament and to use this special time during the Year of Faith to invite someone who may have been away from the Church back to Reconciliation.”
Parishes in the Diocese of Raleigh are heeding Pope Benedict’s call to action. In addition to providing weekly Reconciliation opportunities, during liturgical seasons such as Lent, many parishes also offer Communal Reconciliation Services in which multiple priests are available for individual confessions at one location.
Several parishes are also conducting other services centered on Reconciliation. For example, St. Bernadette Church in Butner is having a Reconciliation Service especially for their youth in addition to parish-wide services. St. Thomas More, Chapel Hill, conducted a Family Retreat on the Sacrament. On March 6, 2013, after the Our Lady of Lourdes Soup Supper Evening, Fr. Tony De Candia will deliver a talk on Penance. The Ministry of Reconciliation at St. Raphael, Raleigh, will be leading daytime Stations of the Cross every Thursday in addition to traditional Friday evening services during Lent. Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Rocky Mount, is expanding confession opportunities to six days a week during Lent.
“Many people take part in this Sacrament in this Diocese, which is truly heartening and inspiring," said Sr. Rose. “It’s important to take that opportunity to be reconciled and receive the grace to be faithful in virtue to your call. We all need that extra grace to do the work God has called us to do.”
Following is a link to Reconciliation services scheduled in Deaneries. (Albemarle Deanery list forthcoming.)
View Parish Reconciliation Services by Deanery (PDF)