Huge crowds respond to Pope’s call to Confession

Irish parishes take up the challenge

Large numbers of Irish Catholics flocked to Confession last weekend, when dioceses across the country answered the call of Pope Francis to have a designated church open for 24 hours offering the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

From 5pm last Friday to 5pm on Saturday priests worldwide made themselves available for continuous Confession in the ‘24 Hours for the Lord’ initiative of prayer and reconciliation spearheaded  by Pope Francis, who also took part in Confessions in Rome.

Some parishes across the country that participated reported a surge in numbers attending Confession while others reported a steady stream. However, there was agreement that the numbers involved had been much higher than expected.


Fr Declan Foley of St Andrew’s Church, Bagenalstown, Co. Carlow, the designated church in the Diocese of Kildare & Leighlin, said the response to the initiative far exceeded expectations. “Priests lined up from across the diocese and had penitents right through the 24 hours,” he said. “People locally arranged to come in each hour for the rosary or Stations of the Cross, or divine mercy, and we had refreshments lined up in a back room.

“About 250 people came to the launch at 5pm, and we had a constant stream of people through the night until the early hours and again in the morning.”

Bishop Denis Nulty led the first hour of prayer in Bagenalstown, then heard an hour of Confession and came back at midnight for a second hour. “I think it is very important to be involved,” he told The Irish Catholic. “The number of priests who made themselves available was super and there was great community spirit. The aim is to do this every year and I would be behind it – it’s a great initiative.”

Five churches in the Diocese of Cloyne remained open to offer the Sacrament of Reconciliation with priests from neighbouring parishes working a rota of confessors to ensure that at least one priest was available right through the 24 hour period.


Fr Tadhg O’Donovan, Holy Rosary Church, Midleton, said there was a steady stream of people throughout the 24 hours. “During the daylight hours it was quite busy and we had a very positive reaction. Overall I think it was a success.”

Fr Aquin Casey of St Patrick’s Church, Fermoy and Canon Gerard Casey, in St Mary’s Church, Mallow were both pleased with the number of people who attended. “We had a great turn out. We had one priest for each hour and they were all kept going,” Canon Casey said. 

Cardinal Seán Brady joined priests in St Malachy’s Church, Armagh to offer the Sacrament of Reconciliation and Bishop John Buckley heard Confessions in St Francis Church in Cork with priests from the diocese and members of the Franciscan community. In the Diocese of Kerry, ‘24 Hours for the Lord’ was held in the Church of the Resurrection, Killarney.