Confession Frustration


I don’t generally like to do this, but I have to ask if this is a usual practice. I decided to go to confession this weekend and opted to go to the nearest parish instead of the parish where I attend mass. It runs from 3 to 4 PM and I got there at 3:15. I waited in line for 45 minutes and it was finally my turn just as the bells began to ring as the clock struck 4:00. Sure enough, the light turned off and the priest was done. I was more than slightly irritated, as I had found myself in a state of mortal sin recently and could only think, “Soooo… I’d really like to receive the Eucharist this weekend, but I guess that’s not really in the cards now.” Fortunately, I was able to get to another church before their confession ended. Now for the question. Is it usual for a parish to stop confession right at the scheduled time? Usually I see the priest(s) continue until everyone has had a chance to confess their sins as long as there isn’t something else happening in the church.

PS - as a note to how rough my confession experience wound up being. As I’m in confession, I’m in the face-to-face side and the light is on, etc. And then I hear someone enter the screen side and see the light come on and could only think, “Are you kidding me?” And then surely the person would have heard that there was someone with the priest, but whoever it was apparently chose not to leave. It was toward the end of my confession so there really wasn’t anything for me to be really embarrassed about, but I just couldn’t believe everything that was piling on in my attempt to be reconciled with God.


I think the availability of the sacrament of reconciliation is one of the areas the church really needs to work on. It can be really frustrating at times.


A very normal practice.

Mass should always start on time.

Confession comes second to Mass (except in the case of imminent death perhaps)…and I believe there is an actual law to this.

It’s your responsibility to seek confession. It’s always available, before and after mass and at other parishes. NO priest should really say no unless serving someone/something else more pressing ( and even in that case should be able to make an appointment with you or send you elsewhere).


that is one of those things you just have to offer up, i think. priests are busy people. father might have been in a hurry because he needed to do an emergency exorcism or give comfort to a dying person. its frustrating, but you could try to find the good in it. although it is inconvenient, its great that so many people are going to confession.

I also think it is quite common for someone to go into the unoccupied part of a three part confessional. usually the conversation is quiet enough, and the cover for the screen muffles it enough that you cant hear the other penitent (not that someone would want to). I’m sure you know that you are bound to the same secrecy that the priest is if you overhear anything someone else is confessing.


The mass wasn’t starting right after confession, though, was part of my frustration. And more importantly, the priest didn’t even acknowledge that I was there and was about to go in. I’d have had no problem if he said we could make an appointment or anything, but he just went about his business. I understand it’s my responsibility to seek confession, which is why I went to another church and started the wait over again.


I was in a confession line that was running overtime so I asked the lady who snuck in behind me, “Does this parish normally go over time or should we come back?” She says, “I’ve never been here before. It don’t know how they do it.” So we smiled and shrugged, and fortunately the line keeps moving–slowly.

Finally, twenty minutes over scheduled time, it’s my turn. I go in, I do the confessional thing, I leave. At the same time, the priest gets out and rushes to shake my hand and welcome me into his flock (LOL so much for anonymity), and tells the lady who was waiting behind me, “I’m sorry, I’m running way too late and Mass is about to start.” She hides her disappointment well, but she immediately leaves, wounded. I wanted to say something to her, but I didn’t know what.

So, in answer to your question, there are rules, and there is some wiggle room for priests, who must exercise their best judgment, and sometimes, a beautiful rite can be frustrating. When a priest hurts my feelings or disappoints me (it happens) I tell myself that they need forgiveness just like everybody else.


Many priests will hear confessions by appointment outside the scheduled times, perhaps a call to the parish office could confirm this is or is not a possibility in your parish?


With the exception of our parish, the other places I’ve been to Confession usually start and end at the posted times. Very rarely have I seen a priest stay past the posted time by more than a few minutes, and I’ve been to quite a few.

At our parish, we are blessed to have Confession before every Mass during the week. On Sundays, since we have two priests, while one priest will be the main celebrant, the other priest will hear Confessions. The one who hears Confessions will even stay after Mass has ended until everyone in the line has gone. ** No Sin Left Unconfessed **


An answer! Thank you!


Hi RedFox0456,

I’m so sorry to hear about your frustrating experience. My thoughts are similar to yours - usually the priest will continue to hear confessions unless there is something scheduled right at the close time, like mass or adoration. However, there may have been some other reason that we’re not aware of. That’s why the best way to find out is to familiarize yourself with the various parishes in the area so you have a rough idea what to expect. Sometimes they’ll post a sign, or have something in the parish bulletin stating confessions end promptly at a given time.

One way I’ve gotten around experiences like this is that I have a regular confessor. It takes a bit of searching but once you find a priest who is willing to be your regular confessor, but you then have a set time you’re going to confession. I’m extremely lucky, in that my confessor is actually a priest who was a former Anglican bishop. So he’s very new to confession, but very much in love with the sacrament and is always offering to hear people’s confessions. I hope he never gets tired of it! :smiley:

Peace and God bless!


I have found myself in a similar situation. And you know what? Sometimes I think it is Jesus trying to get a message across. I know when I was not able to have my confession heard, (and there were tears in my soul for being in a state of mortal sin, truly penitent) it made me truly appreciate and that much hungrier for the gift of Him in the Eucharist.

I have been to TLM where confession started 30 minutes before mass started and lasted almost to communion. (There were two priests celebrating) After the last recipient of confession had been heard, the one priest flew out of the confessional and practically ran up to the altar to help celebrate the mass.

I have also been to confession in another church where I was the only one there for the last 20 minutes, (of a 30 minute session) and this saddens me. I am not judging anyone, but I have no doubt that the lines should be full every day when confessions are heard. I have also seen a priest ten minutes before mass started (he was the celebrant) and 20 minutes after confession ended, go back into the confessional because a mother had asked him to hear her teenage son’s confession.


When I’ve gone to confession at the church I attend while at college, I’ve never had to wait for a turn in the confessional. I could probably hang out with Father in the confessional for the whole thirty minutes and nobody else would care… And I find that pretty sad, honestly.


Most of the churches around here stick to set times because confession is usually right before Mass and most of our parishes have only one priest. He may stay a little over if there are only 1 or 2 people left in line, and if he knows they are not usually the type to take very long, and some will offer to hear confessions after Mass.

There are also a couple parishes that make a point of asking that, if confession starts at 4, to be there by 4:15. Some of the priests wil leave the confessional instead of waiting the whole hour if nobody is there by that time.


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