The Case for Sunday Confessions


Right, Father needs to stop when he’s praying the Mass.

However, I’m referring to when Priests stop because “times up” and he’s going to go relax while another priest is praying the Mass.


i guess that can happen…

i’d’ve hoped that is not the norm


One last thought for the evening: when I’ve been in places that have confessions before Mass, I’ve noticed that generally, no matter how early before Mass the confessions start, people generally don’t come until a few minutes before the end of the confession time.

In other words, it seems like it tends not to be about access to the sacraments, but all about convenience. Sitting in the pews for an extra 20 minutes, because I showed up at the start of the pre-Mass confession time, isn’t what it’s all about. Rather, it’s about minimizing the amount of time I sit in the pews after my confession and before Mass.

Just a personal anecdote, based on my observations. (It’s good to be the usher, sometimes. :wink: )

YMMV. :man_shrugging:



Our priest does a short 15 minutes before each of the 2 Sunday Masses. Every little bit helps. I especially appreciate that he does that when I work nights on the weekend.

Please pray for our holy priests, and that there be more of them.


Don’t be flippant. The point of the article is how can we get more people to confession.

One way is to offer more confessions and another is to use more than one confessional when you have more than one.

I know of some parishes that offer confessions for 15-20 mins before each daily mass. Meaning, the priest is there 15-20 before daily mass so at least one daily mass comunicate can received confession. Which then opens up a spot on Sat.

Increasing the number of confession times should be a priority for priests (in my opinion) over administrative functions they perform.

In my view, the Church needs to:

  1. work to hire more Deacons for the administration as parish administrators, etc. to free up Priests for confession.
  2. task retired (and not home bound) priests as ministers of mercy, focused on Confession.

Let’s be honest: in an IDEAL world, Priests would be spending all day focused on the following 6 tasks:

  1. praying the Mass
  2. praying the Hours
  3. hearing confessions
  4. providing spiritual direction
  5. leading devotions
  6. visiting the sick & homebound

It would be a GLORIOUS problem to have if priests were hearing confessions 1+ hours a day


hard to disagree with this;

so i won’t

fine post


Who says he’s necessarily going to go relax? A lot of priests that I know do extra duty at hospitals or retirement homes or the like, where they either say Mass or distribute communion to those who are unable to attend church.


I would imagine he does his preparation before he begins hearing confessions.


Maybe some of them arrive toward the end of the allotted time because it is challenging enough to get 8 people out of the house on a Sunday morning without going an hour earlier. And then, how to keep the kids content and well-behaved until the Divine Liturgy starts. Just throwing an alternate possibility out there.


I have seen this happen first hand during a First Friday Vigil devotion and mass.

I’m not saying all priests do this. However, I’m am saying that SOMETIMES Priests cut off confession simply because scheduled times up (and for no other reason).

NOTE: that same parish is one where I once asked the pastor if I could schedule a confession and he told me that Confession was limited to scheduled times only.

I mentioned this to a Deacon and another priest and they all said “pray for that priest, because confession should not be so limited.”


My parish has regularly scheduled confessions on Sunday starting an hour before the Divine Liturgy and 30 minutes before any regularly scheduled service. We are a commuter parish, so the times were chosen to reach people when they’ve already made the drive to the church.

In general, I would like to see more confessions offered at a time that is not Saturday afternoon. I think parishes in each deanery should coordinate with each other to offer options. How about Tuesday from 6-7? Or Thursday from 5-6? It is frustrating to not be able to make it to St. So-and So’s on Saturday from 4-5, only to find out that every nearby parish offers confession from 4-5 on Saturday and no other time.


I found a nearby Church that has Sunday confessions, one hour before each of 3 Masses. I love it! Lines are long, but it is so convenient that I now go to confession more often than before.


My parish (commuter parish as well) offers confession 30 minutes before every Mass regardless of Sunday or weekdays. Before Christmas and Easter there are additional times. The few times when we have two priests on a Sunday one will continue to hear confessions until he helps with giving communion. Every priest I know hears confessions after mass if there is a need. One of the priests I know said that after the Year of Mercy, those who go to confession go more frequently than before.

When there hasn’t been anyone confessing before me I have seen priests reading or praying the Hours in the confessional. Usually when I have gotten to the church early for confession and the priest was already in the confessional a good time ahead of official confession times.


And the quoted sentiment seemed to be implying “if he isn’t hearing confessions, then clearly he’s goofing off.” :man_shrugging:

But both seem to be saying that there are more priests available than actually are, no?

And when there aren’t people to do the admin functions?

  • deacons might not be available – or have the requisite talents – to perform administrative functions during business hours.
  • retired priests are (wait for it…) retired. Not in an active ministry assignment, but retired. Sounds like you’re saying “after offering decades of service, and having finally reached an age when retirement is possible… we’re still gonna require you to work. Sorry 'bout that…”

In an ideal world, sure. But it’s not ideal. And, with fewer numbers of priests, are we really suggesting placing additional demands on them? (Ever hear of the goose who laid golden eggs…?)

I’m not talking about prepping a homily (one hopes he already knows what he’s gonna preach before walking into church!), but rather, having the time to prayerfully prepare for the task at hand – praying the Mass!

Maybe. So… why are we suggesting that the priest sit an extra hour of confessions if it’s too challenging even to get to Mass early? :thinking:

Not a bad suggestion.

On the other hand, as someone else has mentioned, priests spend the business hours of the day working (often doing adminstration). Then, in the evenings, there are often meetings. Confessions, too? Hmm… I’m wondering when folks think that priests eat? Or take a moment to relax?

There are fewer priests. They are older. Are we really suggesting that they make themselves available at our convenience?


I think you are totally missing the point.

OF COURSE priests have other things they must do. OF COURSE they are allowed to have downtime to rest, eat, etc. I’m not asking for them to do the impossible, nor to kill themselves.

All I’m saying is that increasing the scheduled times for Confession should be a priority for all parishes, meaning that when creating the parish schedules and budgeting time, some things might need to be cut or staff needs to pick up the slack in order to find more time to Confessions.

How much more time, I don’t know. But I do think that offering at least one time slot for Sunday confessions and at least 15 minutes before or after daily masses would be very helpful.

Having 15 minutes before or after daily mass would most likely eliminate the daily mass attendees from main Saturday confession line, allowing more people to receive confession on the regular Saturday.

NOW, OF course, if no one attends then perhaps a time isn’t good. But we should be experimenting to see if/how we can expand the scheduled hours for confession.

Finally, I know some priests say “they can always make an appointment” but the problem is appointments for confession do not help people who like to go to confession without the priest know who he/she is.

AGAIN - I am NOT asking for priests to work more. I’m simply asking dioceses & parishes to re-evaluate their schedules and duty rosters to find more times for confession.


They have confessions at the Cathedral with like 5 priests on Sunday but that is a special circumstance, of course. Confessions begin at 5:30 PM . Then there is a Sunday mass at 6:30 PM.


Most retired priests I know still do stuff around the parish regarding the sacraments. There are retired priests out there who love to sit in the confessional with a book and read - hearing confessions as people walk in.

I’m NOT saying let’s force retired priests to do stuff. What I’m saying is let’s create opportunities for retired priests to hear more confessions if they are looking for something to do.

Again - I’m NOT saying “WE MUST DO THIS AND THAT.” What I am saying is that we need to look for opportunities to increase scheduled Confession hours.


Our Cathedral is the same way. They have confession 7 days a week with just 2 full time priests, 1 retired priest and the pastor who splits his time working for the Archdiocese.

  • M-F from 11:30 to Noon (when possible, a different priest hears confessions instead of the priest who prays the 12:05 Mass in case confessions run over)

  • Saturday from 4:15 to 5PM (when possible, a different priest(s) hears confessions instead of the priest who prays the 5:15 Mass in case confessions run over)

  • Sunday at 9am and the priest continues to hear confessions until the line is gone - even though there is a 9:30 Mass.

  • Sunday at noon (in Spanish), before the 12:30 Spanish mass

  • Sunday at 5:30 PM with all available priests (including Archbishop Chaput and any visiting priests) hearing confessions until the 6:30 Mass, then one priest continues to hear confessions during mass until the line is gone.


Not exactly. I am suggesting that the parishes offer what is going to be on the schedule anyway at the times when those who have most need can access them. If a parish is only able to offer a single morning (daily) Mass, it is a good idea to look at the demographics of the parish in determining the time to schedule the Mass. Mostly retirees? 8:30 might be a good choice. Mostly working people who want to come to Mass on their way to work? 6:30 would probably be a better option. The needs and, yes, even convenience, of the parishioners ought to be considered.

I’m suggesting that pastors need to get creative about how they approach bringing the sacraments to people. They need to think outside the box. If people aren’t showing up on Saturday from 4-5, try Tuesday from 7-8 instead. Rearrange the schedule and see what helps. Those people who come from 4-5 on Saturday will still have every other parish in town to choose from. (I know I’m speaking from the point of view of someone who lives in a large city with a heavily Catholic population and this approach won’t work everywhere.) We have a different society than we did in the 50s when the vast majority of people had Saturday and Sunday off and lived within walking distance of the parish.

Newman centers and parishes with a large number of students often have late evening Masses on Sunday. Why? Because that is when the students are most likely to come. It could be said that students can get up early on Sunday morning and get to Mass just like everyone else, but do we want to send the message that they must conform or do we want to get them to Mass?


No “maybe” to it. This is my life and that of the majority of my parish. We drive 30 minutes to church. We have to consider the needs of people other than ourselves.

I was just responding to your assertion that it basically comes down to not wanting to sit in the pew for an extra 20 minutes. It is dismissive of those who have real difficulties.

It is also difficult for the priest. I get that. There is always a line for confessions in my parish, which are held on Sundays before the Divine Liturgy, from 8:30 to 9:15-ish. I can see Father glance at his watch as the line gets longer. I’ve been the one who hasn’t managed to get to the front of the line when 9:20 rolls around. I have been the recipient of his apologetic look as he asks me to wait until after the liturgy. It is difficult all the way around.

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