Rorate Caeli

Actual confessionals mean more actual confessions

The past few years have seen several parishes around the world restore things like altar rails, high altars, statues, centrally-located tabernacles and other items that used to be commonplace in Catholic churches.

One area, however, that has been largely neglected is restoring (or constructing) confessionals to the naves or transepts of churches.  Even so-called conservative churches have accepted the "reconciliation room" as the standard so long as there is a kneeler and screen as an option inside the office-like room.

Compare the typical parish "reconciliation room" with one of the many confessionals in Saint Peter's Basilica:

Recently a novus ordo parish (pray it will offer the TLM soon) discovered more people go to confession when there is a visible confessional.

An Old-School Confessional Revives Saying "I'm Sorry"

By Ann Marie Somma
Religion News Service

DERBY, Conn. (RNS) The Rev. Janusz Kukulka can't say for sure that his parishioners are sinning more, but they sure are lining up at the new confessional booth to tell him about it.

For years, Kukulka, was content with absolving sins in a private room marked by an exit sign to the right of the altar St. Mary the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church.

But something happened during Lent this year. For the first time, Kukulka really noticed the two confessionals missing from the rear of his church. They'd been gone for four decades, ripped out during the 1970s to make room for air conditioning units during a renovation inspired by the Second Vatican Council.

They must have been a thing of beauty, Kukulka thought. He imagined their dark oak paneled doors and arched moldings to match the Gothic architecture of the church designed by renowned 19th-century architect Patrick Keely.

Their absence was striking, especially when the Archdiocese of Hartford had asked parishes to extend their confession hours during Lent, part of a public relations campaign to get Catholics to return to the sacrament of reconciliation.

So, one Sunday Kukulka announced his desire to the congregation. "I told them I wanted a visible confessional," he said.

He got one within a week.

Parishioners Timothy Conlon and Patrick Knott moved quickly to fulfill their priest's wish. They thought about building a confessional, but the cost was prohibitive for the cash-strapped parish. So, they turned to the Internet, where Conlon found an antique confessional for sale in Iowa on eBay.

Conlon flew out to Iowa and drove the confessional back to Derby. Knott's wife, Elisa, donated the $1,100 cost of the confessional in honor of her parents, who were devoted church members. A plaque above the confessional bears their name.

"It's a big hit," Conlon said.

Patrick Knott, who had never confessed in the private room, said a long line formed in February when Kukulka held the first confession in the booth. He was the first to try it out.

"I got celebrity status," he said. "It wasn't bad."

Kukulka said confessions have been up ever since at the church.

Read the entire Religion News Service story here.

It is also noteworthy that the parish's website calls what everyone in the world knows the sacrament of penance as: "confessions".  Not "reconciliation", or "healing", or other psychological names that have not increased the frequency of confession since Vatican II.