Turned away from confession

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!

First, you can make a confession within 8 days of the First Saturday and fulfill the conditions for the devotion. So it doesn’t have to be done on the day itself.

The problem here is perhaps the limited availability of confession times, and that’s something to address to your pastor. But the young priest did nothing wrong. The scheduled times are scheduled for a reason. If he’d kept on hearing confessions after 4PM, he might have been late for Mass. Do you begrudge him wanting to prepare for Mass? And maybe he has other obligations after the Mass, visits to make or what have you. If he hears confessions after Mass, then the line could stack up and he’d be unable to go fulfill his other duties.

I think you’re being a little hard on the new priest, and the fact that your post has a bit of an accusatory tone to it (“they talk the talk, but don’t walk the walk”) is a little concerning. Have you thought about why that might be? I’m sure they’re not turning people away from confession so they can go sit in the rectory and drink martinis. A parish big enough to afford multiple priests is bound to be a larger one with plenty of work to go around. And we’re not talking about someone being denied absolution in an emergency or in a state of grave sin. If someone was in a state of serious sin and approached a priest, surely he’d make time. We’re talking though about making confessions as part of a devotional practice. It is a good practice and it’s worth doing. But try to see it from the other side too. There are scheduled times for a reason. Not every priest is Padre Pio; we can’t be two places at once!

Talk to your pastor, charitably, about greater availability of confession times. Maybe visits to the assisted living community could be made to hear confessions; I myself have done this before on occasion after requested by the parish volunteers who made the rounds each week. But I wouldn’t pin the blame on the young priest here.


I’m not sure what you want to tattle on him about. It sounds like he handled the situation perfectly.:shrug:

You should tell the priest what you just said here. Especially the part about the parish being told about the importance of confession (and thank him for that!) but then the lack of confession times. Him being a new priest you could approach it like…‘in the future Father do you think there will be more time for confession available’. He might very well realize that more time is needed but has many issues to deal with in running the parish as a new priest.

Perform your First Saturday devotions elsewhere. Same with confession. I’m sure there’s another parish or a monastery in your area which offers more time for confession and recognizes major devotions.

The limited time for scheduled confession is unfortunate, but the priest kept to the schedule. He also mentioned one can make an appointment. He is making himself available.

In my rather large parish we only have scheduled confession for one hour on Saturday. Lines can be long. I typically go to another parish for confession during the week and even on Saturday. I know one priest who loves to hear confessions before or after any daily Mass.

I’d say figure out another way to have your confession heard if your parish’s half hour doesn’t work well. And you can certainly talk to the priest and suggest more confession times.

I have seen this happen before in certain parishes on First Saturday. Some parishes and some priests will continue to hear confessions after Mass and some won’t. For those of us who are able bodied and have access to another church we can go there, or else make our confession during the upcoming week as someone said. This month I actually attended Mass at Church A and then drove to Church B for confession at a later time because Church A had about 40 people in line and only one priest available, so I decided to not burden him and go to a church that as it turned out had no line.

It may be that this priest, being new, did not realize that the elderly parishioners had difficulty coming in for Confession or that they were all there for First Saturday. I would let him or the pastor know that there’s an expectation of hearing the confessions after Mass at least for those people because they are in assisted living, have difficulty coming in, etc.

I agree it’s annoying when the priest doesn’t finish the whole Confession line, whether it’s First Saturday or no. I agree that it discourages people from coming to Confession at all. This seems to be a product of the priest shortage. However, I have noted (also on the First Saturday thread) that some churches always seem to have way long confession lines while other active churches seem to get relatively fewer people coming in. I have no idea why this is. I doubt it’s because the churches with long lines have confessors who are so much better than the other churches.

Actually, I wouldn’t bring it up with the priest. From the sounds of it, is sounds like he is a parochial vicar, in other words, not the pastor. In other words, even if he wanted to, there is nothing he can do to “add” times for confession. That is a decision that lies with the pastor. If you would like something changed, please speak with the pastor directly, not with the vicar, asking him to speak to the pastor on your behalf.

And I agree…it sounds like this priest did nothing wrong. Very frequently on Saturdays after Mass, priests have other commitments, commonly in the summer months would be a wedding reception. I frequently will have an afternoon wedding on Saturday, go hear confessions, celebrate Mass, and then go join the couple again at their reception.

I agree with the previous posts that the issue is not with the priest, but with the schedule.

Also, I would be careful about trying to hold others, even priests, to the standard of private devotions. They are under no obligation to practice these, let alone believe them.

I very strongly disagree with this, the very first step in any situation where you disagree with the priest is to address the situation with that priest first!

Though this priest may very well be a parochial vicar, he may not be, and in any case, deserves the respect of having this issue brought to his attention first. The priest can then address this situation with is superiors to see what changes can be made at his church.

Here, however, we’re in complete agreement :thumbsup:

Fair enough. I can agree with that. But, this isn’t really an issue of correction, per se. It’s an issue of scheduling.

Having been a parochial vicar for a few years, it’s been my experience that what this young priest will say is, “Thanks for your concern, but the hours of confessions are determined by Fr. So and so, our pastor. It’s really something you’ll have to take up with him.” I suppose every pastor is different, but in my experience, they have reasons for why they schedule things a certain way. It’s not the purview of the vicar to go rogue on the pastor, so to speak, and start adding things…even if they be objectively good things, like more confession times.

That really is a TIGHT confession schedule! :confused:
I would talk to the pastor (again) about having additional confession times or even having more than one priest at that time would assure that every confession was heard.
That way, the priest who has to prepare for mass can do so, without sending away penitents.
Priests are very busy. (Marriage/prep, funerals, baptism/prep, hospital/homebound visitation; Anointing of the sick, counseling, etc. We never know what they may be scheduled to do after mass. Please try to cut the young Fr. Newbie some slack. :thumbsup: Most priests are more than happy to hear confessions when they are able. :slight_smile:

The main feature of the First Saturday devotion is that you receive Communion, generally in the context of a Mass, on First Saturday. What priest in his right mind is going to object to a devotion that encourages many people to go to Mass on a day when it’s not required? Priests are generally thrilled to see some warm bodies on the seats.

Start an hour or more before mass on first saturdays is what happens here. Of course, if the priest kept going and the mass started late, this thread would be a complaint about that…

Our parish only has one priest, but he manages.

Parochial vicar was my first thought.

However I think it should be noted that the op is frustrated also because of a devotional practice. Which honestly should not dictate the parish schedule or protocol with confessions. While pastors have a duty to asses the sacramentL needs of thier parishioners, they cannot be expected to bend to the few at the expense of the many. The op needs to be careful they are not superstitious about the first Saturday devotion, and know that one can confess on another day. Of course there is the complete problem solver of just getting to confession earlier…

:thumbsup: Lol…makes sense huh? Jesus’ Mother leading people to…Jesus! What was that she said at the Wedding at Cana?

I agree with everything you said here for everybody who is able-bodied. Whether it’s arriving earlier, confessing within 8 days before or 8 days after, or going to a different church for confession, those of us who can get around can handle this minor inconvenience and even offer it up as more reparation to Our Lady.

My one concern is that if a lot of these people are elderly/ infirm then they may have a greater need to take care of their confession needs and the Mass in one trip. So maybe some special accommodation can be made for them, not out of superstition but simply in recognition of their difficulty in moving around and making the alternative arrangements that the younger/ able-bodied can do.

Exactly. That was my concern…NOT my own inconvenience. In fact, even though I got there in what should have been plenty of time, I gave up my place to let some of them go ahead of me, as did several others in line. Unfortunately, they still didn’t get to confess.

This thread makes me realize how Important it is to pray for vocations to the priesthood.

Yes. One doesn’t have to confess only at one’s own parish. You could also ring up parishes when the secretaries are there during the week and ask how busy it gets on certain days. This information will help you to plan for the next time.

It does sound as if the times for confession are limited severely at your parish. And certainly it seems as if sometimes confession is not taken as seriously as it could be by church members, and that might be why there is a severe lack of allocated time - because at one point people were not attending. You will find though, that this is the case at many churches. Many parishes will have the Sacrament available once a week, for half and hour. Monasteries might keep going beyond the half hour. Sometimes, churches have the sacrament available twice during the week. You might find a church, if you search around, that also has confession times listed for after Mass.

If you feel up to speaking to the new priest, you could also mention what happened, and ask for more time for the Sacrament within the parish.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.