Priests across the Diocese of Cleveland spent three hours, 5-8 p.m., on Wednesday, March 15, in the confessionals at every church in the diocese for the fifth annual Evening of Confession. For the first time, the neighboring Diocese of Youngstown also participated.
“This is definitely something that I think we should continue to do,” said Father Sean Ralph, administrator of the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in downtown Cleveland. “What a great witness to the magnanimity and accessibility of God’s mercy, a point that our Holy Father has made one of the hallmarks of his pontificate and his preaching.”
As in previous years, a number of people who have been away from the sacrament for some time were drawn to confession that night. Father Ron Wearsch, pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Avon Lake, who was featured in a television ad for the event, said he heard the confessions of people who reported being away from the sacrament for many years.
Father Ralph agreed. “This is definitely something that people took advantage of, not only regular recipients of the sacrament of penance, but also those who have been estranged from the Church for years.”
At the cathedral, Father Ralph said three priests were available to hear confessions and while the traffic was not constant over the three hours, “there were still many who came to take advantage of this great gift of mercy. I also think having every parish across the diocese offer the opportunity during the same hours helps embolden those who might not otherwise make confession a regular practice in their life.”
“It was another beautiful evening of reconciliation,” Father Wearsch said.