Parishes report surge in numbers attending Confession

Numbers attending Confession during Advent and Christmas increased

Parishes across the island of Ireland have reported an increase in people attending Confession during the Advent and Christmas seasons in 2013, with many priests attributing the large numbers to a renewed interest in the Church created by Pope Francis.

Irish cathedral parishes surveyed by The Irish Catholic noticed a marked increase in people looking for the Sacrament of Reconciliation, with many priests spending a full day on Christmas Eve hearing Confessions.

In Letterkenny, Co. Donegal Fr Eamonn Kelly, Adm. said the increase in Confessions in the Cathedral of Saints Eunan and Columba was a pleasant surprise. “We had long sessions, with two priests spending full afternoons at Confession. We kept expecting it to go quiet but it didn’t,” he said.

Fr Liam Reilly, curate in St Muredach’s Cathedral in Ballina, Co. Mayo told The Irish Catholic there were large numbers attending Confession over the Christmas period and Fr Paul Crosbie, curate at the Cathedral of Christ the King in Mullingar, Co. Westmeath said attendance at the cathedral for Confessions was “noticeably higher this year” with “a continuous demand for Confessions from 12-6pm with 4-6 confessors at each time on Christmas Eve”.

Fr Paul Farren, Administrator at St Eugene’s Cathedral in Derry, said “very large numbers attended the Sacrament of Confession, especially on Christmas Eve”. “Confessions were busy all through Advent and we kept the cathedral opened late on Monday nights for Confession from 8-10pm. On Christmas Eve we had four priests hearing Confessions from 11am-6pm,” he said.

Fr Farren said he thought Pope Francis was having a positive influence on people as he is talking “so beautifully about the message of God and the welcome that awaits people in the Church”.

A survey of clergy based in cathedrals across England and Wales last year found that two thirds had noticed an upturn in numbers going to Confession, something many of them credited to a papal ‘bounce’ known as the ‘Francis effect’.