MANILA, March 24, 2015— In a commercial and residential area in Quezon City, Catholics don’t have to find a church to go to confession. They just need to walk down the street.
Embracing Pope Francis’ call to make confession a priority, Fr. Emmanuel Del Rosario of the Resurrection of Our Lord Parish in Brgy. Paltok took to the streets to hear confessions.
Fondly known as “Fr. Pong” by his parishioners, the priest said that “street confession” have been done in some parts of the country in the past, especially abroad where society is “more secularized” and the church “is not exactly in the pink of health.”.
In Brgy. Paltok, Fr. Pong said he noticed that many people have become mere spectators in liturgies and other church-related activities.
He said that confession is also often put off until the last minute and all sorts of excuses for not making confession at all are manufactured.
“Then I said to myself that if I would sit near tricycle terminals, stores, or even outside an OTB (off-track betting) and Lotto outlets, then perhaps it would be convenient for many to confess,” Fr. Pong said.
A top priority, he said, is for his parish to offer several schedules for confession and to address the difficulties often associated with it.
Bystanders, street vendors, students
“My motivation is to make the beautiful and healing sacrament of reconciliation visible to many,” he said.
Fr. Pong said he always carries with him a portable kneeler with a screen but a penitent has a choice of either confessing face-face or behind a screen.
He said those who avail of the sacrament vary from bystanders, street vendors, students and elderly people with some of them admitting that their last confession was more than three decades ago.
“It amazing how we are met with much enthusiasm by our neighbours and even those who just happen to pass by,” he said.
Pope Francis has earlier encouraged priests to make themselves available for confessions, especially during Lent. (Roy Lagarde/CBCPNews)