Holy Saints Area Catholic Community will hold a “Confesstival” from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. March 23 at St. Mary Help of Christians in St. Augusta. Everyone is invited to come anytime during the 12-hour event to participate in the sacrament of penance.
As people arrive throughout the day, there will be prayer materials and examinations of conscience available as well as a team of volunteers to direct them.
In addition to individual confession with one of four priests who will be available, the day includes exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, adoration and votive candles for penitents to light at the front of the church. Sacred music also will play quietly in the church.
During the regular faith formation time in the evening, there will be activities for youth and a presentation by Ann Marschel, who is H.E.A.R.T. (Health Education and Relationship Training) coordinator at ELEVATE Pregnancy and Family Resource Center in St. Cloud.
The idea for the “Confesstival” originated with Father Erik Lundgren, a priest of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis who is currently serving as parochial vicar of the churches of Holy Saints Area Catholic Community.
“What became clear very quickly was that many parishioners, especially working parents appreciated having a wider range of time during which they could show up,” said Father Lundgren, who helped to plan similar events at his previous parishes in Faribault and Shakopee. “We had several hundred people come to confession [the first year] and we were busy non-stop, and even continued hearing confessions a couple of hours past the advertised window.”
He said during the first event, at Divine Mercy Parish in Faribault, it became clear that God was showing them a more effective way to respond to the need and hunger for God’s mercy in the sacrament of penance.
“I continued this practice at my last parish assignment in Shakopee, Sts. Joachim and Anne, and that was where an older parishioner gave me the catchy suggestion of calling it a ‘Confesstival.’”
The term caught on quickly, he said, and seemed to help draw even more people who maybe hadn’t been to confession in many years.
“It might be because it’s a fun sounding term that takes away some of the intimidation that can surround the sacrament of penance,” he said.
Father Lundgren said he hopes people come away with a renewed sense of God’s mercy and love after attending this event.
“I hope that everyone who comes is encouraged to see that they aren’t alone in their struggle to overcome sin and grow in holiness.”
(Holy Saints Area Catholic Community includes the parishes of St. Mary Help of Christians, St. Augusta; Holy Cross, Pearl Lake/Marty; St. Wendelin, Luxemburg; St. Nicholas, St. Nicholas and St. Anne, Kimball)