By Susan Gately - 08 December, 2017
If you want to have your confession heard by a bishop, then the place to be today is at the Skycourt Shopping Centre in Shannon, where the Bishop of Killaloe, Fintan Monahan, will be hearing confessions from 3.00pm to 4.00pm amidst the din of a busy shopping centre.
For the third year in a row, ‘Mercy in the Mall’ takes place at the Skycourt, with the bishop and twenty priests doing hour long stints hearing confessions, giving blessings or just being available for a chat at four ‘stations’ in the mall between 1.00pm to 6.00pm. In between they will walk around chatting to people before doing a second or even third hour of hearing Confessions.
The brainchild belongs to Fr Tom Ryan, PP of Shannon, who proposed it as a one off initiative for the Year of Mercy two years ago. It was a great success making international headlines. Last year and this year, people contacted the Skycourt asking when would Santa be coming to the mall, and when would there be Confessions?
“They wanted both!” Fr Tom Ryan told CatholicIreland. “The management contacted us to know if we would do it again.”
Fr Ryan does not know how many people avail of the in-centre Confession. “One person could be two minutes and another fifteen. All 20 priests were kept occupied that’s the way we measure it. We wouldn’t have numbers but there was no idleness on the part of the priests.”
The Shannon priest said it was encouraging that people wanted the service and that the sacrament of reconciliation has not gone out of fashion. “It mightn’t be used as much but those who do use it value it, and when you go out to the market place you meet people who avail of the opportunity because it’s convenient and spontaneous.”
“They come into the Shopping Centre and then they see you and they connect.”
The children from the local Saint Conaire’s Primary School will be singing at the shopping centre too from 1.00pm today, to get people into the Christmas spirit on the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, which traditionally starts the shopping season.