Demand from ordinary people is behind a third attempt to bring the Pope’s message of mercy to shoppers in the Midwest in the lead-up to Christmas.
The original ‘Mercy on the Mall’ in Shannon’s Skycourt Shopping Centre took place in 2015 at the beginning of the Year of Mercy, Shannon parish priest Fr Tom Ryan told The Irish Catholic. “On that occasion we were responding to Pope Francis’ call for priests to go out into the marketplace and to engage with people and be available to them,” he said, saying that first ‘Mercy on the Mall’ saw 20 priests busily offering reconciliation to shoppers for a whole afternoon from 1pm to 6pm.
The “overwhelming success” of that pioneering exercise and questions about “when would Santy be in the centre and when would confessions be available” prompted shopping centre management to request that it be repeated last year, he said, with similar calls for it to be repeated this year.
“It seems the demand is there from people,” Fr Ryan said. “We’re doing it again this year in response to the demands that we have received from both parishioners from customers who have used the centre to have this facility during their shopping day here on December 8 to have the opportunity for confession, a blessing, a chat, or to engage with the bishop or a priest.”