I need some advice on how to handle this issue gracefully as we have a newly ordained priest in our parish and I don’t want to appear to be “tattling” on him. Yesterday was the
1st Saturday of August. There are many of us in my parish observing the 1st Saturday devotion to the Blessed Mother, in honor of the 100th anniversary of the apparitions at Fatima. There has always been very limited time in our parish for confessions. It has always been just once a week for 1/2 hr before the Saturday vigil mass. There is also no Saturday morning mass, so the vigil mass is the only way to observe the 1st Saturday devotion. That is concerning in itself, since the priests speak about the importance of confession all the time. The talk the talk, but don’t walk the walk. It also bothers me that almost no one speaks of the 1st Saturday or 1st Friday devotions much, at least in this parish, which I just joined a couple of years ago due to moving here.
Yesterday, at the beginning of the scheduled confession time, there was already a very long line waiting when I arrived. I waited for over a half hour, as did several others, but many of us did not get to confess when the priest stopped confessions to get ready for mass. The other priest always stops exactly at 4:00 om on the dot, no matter how many are waiting. The young priest yesterday told one of the people coming out of confession to tell those waiting in line that we could either make an appointment or come back next week. We were shocked that he didn’t offer to hear confessions after mass because many of those still waiting were observing the 1st Saturday devotion. Others were elderly, in assisted living facilities, and only get to mass once a week as they have no other transportation.
Obviously, those of us observing the 1st Saturday devotion did our best to get to confession yesterday, but we can get to confession later this week at another church, but I felt horrible for those that cannot. Our Lady will understand and accept their attempt to fulfill the confession requirement and count it. But I was shocked that any priest would not make accommodation for any person trying to confess. What would happen if that person with a mortal sin on their soul suddenly died before the next confession opportunity? Wouldn’t it be on that priest who refused confession because it wasn’t “convenient”?
Obviously, the problem really lies with the very limited time for confession in our parish, which I intend to bring up with the pastor. But the refusal of confession issue really bothers me. I have already offered to transport any of the others who want to make appointments during the week, or find another parish with more confession time, but many of them are in wheelchairs and need lift-equipped vans. I also work from 7:30 am to 4 pm, so that also makes finding other confession times at other parishes a bit tricky.
My thought at this time is to pray for the young priest for wisdom and for God to make him re-think turning people thirsting for forgiveness away from a sacrament, and to bring up the very limited confession times to the pastor again. The issue has been raised several times now without much response on his part, but maybe the squeaky wheel really does get the grease!