The Cathedral of St. Peter will open its doors for 24 hours to those seeking the Lord’s mercy in the sacrament of reconciliation.
March 4 – 5 will mark the first 24 Hours of Mercy event in the Diocese of Belleville.
“To begin Lent, we want to offer an extended opportunity for people to meet our Lord and receive His mercy in the Sacrament of Reconciliation,” said Bishop Michael McGovern.
Diocesan priests will be available for Confessions at the Cathedral from 3 p.m. on Friday, March 4 until 3 p.m. on Saturday, March 5.
Faithful are invited to come partake in this time of prayer and reflection and receive the sacrament of reconciliation from a priest of the diocese.
The Blessed Sacrament will be exposed throughout the 24 Hours of Mercy, said Msgr. John Myler, rector of The Cathedral of St. Peter.
“We remember the Scripture: ‘God’s mercy endures forever.’ So on the Friday after Ash Wednesday, there will be Confessions in the Cathedral beginning Friday at 3 PM – all afternoon, all evening, all night long – and all Saturday morning and afternoon until 3 p.m. — twenty four consecutive hours of the Lord’s mercy!” said Msgr. Myler.
More than a dozen area priests will alternate hearing confessions—two at a time—during the 24 hours.
Pope Francis has annually invited the faithful around the world to live the occasion of “24 Hours for the Lord” as an opportunity “to celebrate the sacrament of Reconciliation in the context of Eucharistic adoration.”
The Vatican has said that Pope Francis “will open this great initiative with the Penitential Celebration in St. Peter’s Basilica.”
“The objective is to offer to all – including those who feel might uncomfortable entering a church – the opportunity to seek the merciful embrace of God,” the pope said, adding, This is “a unique occasion to return to the Father.”
According to Msgr. Myler, this is the first time 24 Hours of Mercy has been offered in the Diocese of Belleville.
He says many Catholics from across the Diocese are expected to make a sort of pilgrimage to the Cathedral for confession, including many who have been away from confession for many years and are looking for a fresh start.
Other parishes, partnerships or vicariates in the Diocese may choose to do something similar at other times during Lent.
Offering 24 consecutive hours of confessions has many practical benefits, as well, including:
• helping to accommodate people’s working schedules;
• to allow couples with little children the chance for one parent to come to Confession while the other stays at home — and then vice versa;
• to spend a little more time preparing, and then a little more in thanksgiving;
• to welcome those who have been away from Confession for a long time;
Msgr. Myler said that “Help for Confession” materials will be available to all, and the Cathedral Knights of Columbus will be present to assist those entering/leaving the Cathedral.