This evening we priests gathered at Immaculate Conception Church in Irwin for the second of our four regional Advent Penance Services. We had gathered at the neighboring Saint Agnes Church last Thursday, and we are scheduled at our place on Wednesday and Saint Edward in Herminie on Thursday. These regional opportunities for the Sacrament of Reconciliation are a great way to make the sacrament available to the People of God.
This evening there were ten priests available to hear confessions and share the Lord's forgiveness - five monks from Saint Vincent Archabbey and the five local guys. We usually begin with a good meal and tonight was no exception. Following the fellowship around the table we gathered in the church, and from 7:00 to 8:40 pm the ten of us heard confessions straight through. It was a good crowd, and those acknowledging that they were sinners did so with a humble desire for the Lord's mercy. I found the experience very prayerful and very peace filled tonight. I know that I should not be, but I am continually amazed at the mercy of Christ, the necessity of the Sacrament in the life of the Church, the trust of the people, and the way in which the Lord uses those of us, though unworthy, to be his ministers.