By MARY ANN POUST
In a spirit of Lenten cooperation, 25 parishes in Orange County have worked together to open their doors for confession on Friday, March 5, from 6 to 9 p.m.
They're among 51 parishes around the archdiocese—including St. Patrick's Cathedral and 18 others in Manhattan—that will offer confessions at some time during the 24-hour period from 7 a.m. Friday, March 5, to 7 a.m. Saturday, March 6.
"The idea is to encourage people, particularly during the Lenten season, to see the sacrament of penance as an important part of their life, as a sacrament that lets them know the love and mercy of God," said Auxiliary Bishop Dominick J. Lagonegro, vicar of Dutchess, Orange, Sullivan, Ulster and Northern Westchester/Putnam, who worked with the county's parishes to organize the event.
"Part of our hope is that people who have not been to confession for a long time will see this as an opportunity to do it...Also, those people preparing for Easter who regularly go to confession, it's another opportunity for them to go. We're very excited about it," the bishop said.
The one-day event, called "24 Hours of Confession," expands on an initiative begun last year by the Cathedral of St. Patrick Young Adults group.
"In this Year for Priests, the priests of the Archdiocese of New York are making a tremendous sacrifice to hear people's confessions, to counsel them, and to give them comfort," said Mario Bruschi, director of the Cathedral of St. Patrick Young Adults, in a statement announcing the program.
"Catholics need to know that confession is all about God's forgiveness and love, and that the priest is there for them," he said.
In Orange County, the parishes are promoting the initiative with ads in local newspapers on the Sunday and Wednesday beforehand. Priests also have been asked to preach about the sacrament of reconciliation, and the special confession hours, at weekend Masses Feb. 27-28, Bishop Lagonegro said.
"We're highlighting the idea that the whole county is involved, and we're hoping it's something that will be talked about," he said, adding that having a uniform time allows people to go to any church that they want.
"Some people would rather not go to confession in their own parish," he said.
Besides the 25 in Orange County and the 19 in Manhattan, participating parishes include two each in Westchester and Dutchess counties, and one each in the Bronx, on Staten Island and in Rockland County.
Parish names and addresses, and hours of confession at the individual churches, are posted on the cathedral group's Web site: www.cspya.org.
The Orange County parishes are: St. Columba, Chester; St. Thomas, Cornwall; St. Joseph, Florida; St. John, Goshen; Holy Rosary, Greenwood Lake; St. Anastasia, Harriman; Sacred Heart, Highland Falls; St. Patrick, Highland Mills; Assumption, Maybrook; Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Middletown; and St. Joseph, Middletown.
Also, Holy Name of Mary, Montgomery; Sacred Heart, Monroe; Sacred Heart, Newburgh; St. Francis, Newburgh; St. Mary, Newburgh; St. Joseph, New Windsor; Holy Name of Jesus, Otisville; Infant Saviour, Pine Bush; Immaculate Conception-St. Mary, Port Jervis; Holy Cross, South Centerville; Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Tuxedo; Most Precious Blood, Walden; St. Stephen, Warwick; and St. Mary, Washingtonville.