A priest starts hearing confessions before Masses: “And, boy, have the people come!”

This, folks, the the real promotion of the new evangelization.

From a priest:

On your blog you regularly post encouragements to parishioners and priests alike to have (or encourage priests to have) confessions offered more frequently. Each time I’ve read one of these postings, I’ve thought to myself ‘gee, I should do that’. But – and there has always been one! – the effort of re-building a schedule, publicizing and encouraging more frequent attendance and ultimately, laziness in actually doing it have held me back.

However, one of your recent posts urging priests to hear confessions even 10 minutes before Mass struck a chord. Since the beginning of Advent I have been hearing confessions for about half an hour before Mass. And, boy, have the people come! While I haven’t yet told my congregation, this has been such a success that I will continue this even after Advent.

Thank you for your persistence in promoting confession and in nudging us priests. We need it – and its working!

I am very grateful, Father, for that news. Thank you.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, ASK FATHER Question Box, Mail from priests, New Evangelization, Our Catholic Identity, The future and our choices. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. B.C.M. says:

    Praise God! As someone who invariably works whenever the scheduled half hour a week any parish around me has scheduled confessions, I long for the availability of confessions before Sunday Mass. So thank you Father(s)!

  2. Salvatore_Giuseppe says:

    Thank you, Father, and for all other priests like you.

    I don’t understand why more priests don’t hear confessions before (or after) masses. As a busy student, the odd times that confession is usually held can often not work. But I can always be to mass 15-20 minutes early. I think the same goes for many people. The more convenient you make confession times, the more people will go.

  3. Robert of Rome says:

    Thanks for posting this email, Father. We priests need to remember that if we get up the courage to sit in the confessionals, people will come. I have had this experience on so many occasions in the last couple years that it has become a major conviction of mine. THE reason that people are not going to confession is that priests are not there to hear confessions. Period. And we priests need to remember to seek the sacrament of penance for ourselves, too. Miracles happen in the confessional.

  4. Banjo pickin girl says:

    I like to joke that my parish is the sinningest parish in the diocese because we have confession daily until all are heard and an hour on saturday and a half hour before each Sunday Mass and there are lines out the door. It’s astonishing. People from other parishes come too because of the availability.

  5. James Joseph says:

    I’ve been to a parish in Lincoln, Nebraska where confessions are regularly heard during holy Mass. I swung through one fine day while driving cross-country.

    Two priests and a deacon in the sanctuary and a third priest in the confessional.

  6. Joseph-Mary says:

    Banjo girl’s parish is perhaps even with mine which has confessions every day after the early morning Mass and then before the noon Mass.

    Some bright members of the parish staff almost got Saturday morning confessions cut out. Some of us raised a fuss because people come even from out of town for this sacramant at that time. And I wrote a letter to the pastor. And so it was not cut out. There was a long line this morning. But, having my pick of days, I go on Tuesdays and have a regular confessor. Aren’t I a lucky one!

  7. Elizabeth D says:

    God bless this priest. What a huge difference this will make in his parish!!! At my parish we have had confessions 1/2 hr before every Mass for a long time, but that shouldn’t be so unusual. It is extremely needed.

  8. I have never seen a Sunday TLM without confessions before Mass. At ours, the lines before Mass are usually long enough that the priest hears confessions again after celebrating the Mass.

  9. Tom says:

    In our city there are Franciscans who hear confessions every day except Sunday, all day, in the Catholic Center in a shopping mall (they also say Mass every day but Sunday). Every time I go, there are always people waiting it seems. And the mall is accessible by bus, so people who do not drive can go easily. They do much good for souls. Yes, I prefer to go to my own parish, but the Franciscans are always there. Our priest hears confessions often (that is, before every Mass and at other times as well), and there is always a long line. Sometimes he has to leave before every confession can be heard.

    To paraphrase Ray Kinsella, If you build it, they will come.

  10. kat says:

    I hope this good priest, and all the rest like him who are beginning to hear confessions frequently, realizes how ANGRY the devil is with him, and how much he will try to sabotage your good efforts at getting souls out of his grasp.

    Friends, please please pray for priests every day. For the holy ones to remain so; for the lukewarm warms to become more fervent; for the weak ones to be strengthened…it is OUR DUTY and they cannot give us what they themselves do not have.

    God bless all of you priests here who are striving to bring back the Catholic Faith and souls to Our Lord. Beg Our Lady and Our Lord to surround you with their protection from the Evil One, because you need it!

  11. letchitsa1 says:

    Thank you, Father, for taking up Father Z’s challenge. I hope and pray that others will, as well.

  12. amichel says:

    Me and my wife just got back from confession, and had to wait in a nice line to do so. It’s good to see everyone preparing for the coming of the Lord this Advent.

  13. ray from mn says:

    I went to Confession at Nativity of Our Lord in St. Paul this afternoon. Two priests, an hour each, with short lines for both of them. This coming Tuesday will be a penance service with many priests, scheduled especially in preparation4 for Christmas.

    Nativity also has confessions before their M-F morning and afternoon Masses.

  14. St. Epaphras says:

    Thank you, Father (the OP) and all priests who hear confessions before and after Mass so more of us can meet Our Lord there in this Sacrament of mercy and healing. Jesus is also longing to meet us in the confessional, but it cannot happen without you. Thank you!!

  15. Consilio et Impetu says:

    Kudos to Father for hearing confessions before Masses. The parish I am in has scheduled confessions for Wednesday evening every two weeks and at times one of those weeks may be cancelled. Although the pastor is by himself he does have weekend help. I find myself going to a neighboring parish where there are two priests hearing confession on Saturday afternoons. I realize I could make an appointment to see the pastor and go to confession but how many would happily go to confession if a priest was available an hour before Saturday evening and Sunday Masses? I thank Fr. Z for encouraging priests and bishops to hear confession more often. To paraphrase a line from the movie, “Field of Dreams” , “If you (priests and bishops) avail yourselves, they will come.” God bless.

  16. priests wife says:

    one important thing to keep in mind- if the priest is in the confessional before Mass, he will need one or two very reliable sacristans to prepare for Mass. Maybe this is obvious- but in a small church, this doesn’t always happen and the priest is busy with preparing linens, doing practical things that lay people can do, etc. If the priest wants to hear confessions before Mass, he’ll need practical help

  17. cgriffin says:

    God Bless you, Father! I love going to Confession and I hope and pray that more priests will follow the example you set. To all priests who may read this, please, offer Confession before Mass and as often as you can — we will come! Thank you to all the priests who make Confession readily available.

  18. jbpolhamus says:

    I have recently noticed that confessions are being heard before some noon masses at St. Joseph’s Cathedral in downtown San Diego. The day doesn’t seem to have to be a solemnity or a feast, it seems to have more to do with whether the priest has time that day. But it has been most encouraging to walk into the Cathedral between 11:50 and 11:55am, and see fifteen or twenty people queued up along the epistle-side outside the confessionals. Confession: “If you hear it, they will come!”

  19. bookworm says:

    Tom, I remember reading about that Franciscan center some years ago when I was still working for a Catholic diocesan newspaper. I’m glad to hear it’s still around. If I remember correctly, the reason they don’t offer Mass on Sundays is that they don’t want to supplant or compete with regular parish Masses.

  20. Dr. Sebastianna says:

    To the Priest who wrote to Fr. Z: Thanks for doing this, Father. : )

  21. Bernadette88 says:

    I have just taken over a young adults group (18-35) in my diocese….and made sweeping changes. The group is very diverse with liberal to conservative and everything in between represented, a real cross section of diocesan youth. We have bought the latin back into the Mass (only the Sanctus, Pater Noster, Agnus Dei) and the young people love it, they love the sense of the sacred and aslo the connection with their heritage and identity as catholics. This month we had a new addition, I decided to have confessions 20 minutes before the start of Mass, giving the priest ten minutes to vest/prepare for Mass. I honestly didnt think more than 5 people would turn up and one priest would be sufficent. We had to draft in another 2 priests and Mass was ten minutes late because the queues for confession were so long! What an absolute blessing to see. It is completely unfounded to say young people aren’t bothered about sin or want confessions. These young people are desperate for confession but often cant make the alloted time in their parish because they have weekend jobs/studies etc so this was a perfect opportunity for them. To see so many people waiting for the sacrament and to have 3 priests hearing confessions and there were still queues was AWESOME!! Needless to say we will be having confessions at next month’s meeting….. Reading this blogpost and my own experience at this group, well lets say I’m already nagging my parish priest to give it a trial run in Lent!

  22. rhhenry says:

    Any advice for Catholics who haven’t been to Confession in a long time (as in years)? Hard to confess in number and in kind when we’re talking about 13 years and a faulty memory . . .

  23. Banjo pickin girl says:

    rhhenry, “numerous times,” or “I can’t remember how many times” is fine.

  24. rhhenry says:


    Thanks. But it’s kind of weird when you get to the “kind” of sin — “Fr., pick a commandment, and I’ve violated it. A lot.” Oof. I know the “real” solution is to go to Confession more frequently, but how to get over that first hurdle?

  25. Springkeeper says:

    Thank you so much for doing so Father! I attended Mass on Sunday but can not partake of the Eucharist until I go to confession and I have to scour the internet to find a time and parish where I can do that. It is a bit frustrating and disheartening.

  26. Michael in NoVA says:


    I admire you for your desire to come back to confession after a while away. Fr. Z has posts on tips to make a good confession, even when you’ve been away for a while, but I can’t find a link. I guess the main thing I would try to do is first make a good examination of conscience. Find a thorough one (such as the one here: http://www.beginningcatholic.com/catholic-examination-of-conscience.html), and don’t be afraid to write your sins down. You can burn or otherwise dispose of the paper after your confession, and this way you won’t worry about forgetting something major.

    Second, I would try to make sure you go to Confession with a solid priest who supports the Church. He will both welcome you back heartily and not belittle your sins (sadly, some will respond to certain serious matters with “That’s not really a big deal” or “If your conscience says it’s okay, it’s not a sin.”). It may take a little time to go through confession. That’s fine. There is no 3 minute rule for confession. If you prefer, you can make an appointment with the priest. Or, station yourself at the back of a line during a period of “Until the line ends” confessions if you’re worried about making others wait too long.

    God will forgive the frailty of human minds. If you cannot remember the number, indicate the frequency. God will understand and be merciful.

    I hope you are able to go this Advent. I will pray for you.

  27. Johnno says:

    I have never gone to my local parish for confessions in the longest time. I always go to another parish further away during the weekday because I know they hear confessions before mass there. I usually avoid Communion on Sunday if I have committed mortal sin. Our priest usually hangs around before the Mass greeting people instead. Though in his defence if Iapproach him for confession and there’s stil ltime before Mass begins, he will step aside to hear it. Though if he made it a point to be there and let everyone know that he was hearing confession, I’m sure more would go.

  28. The Egyptian says:

    In our cluster one must call for an appointment, the parish coordinator takes the call. Sorry not an option. “Hi Betty I need to schedule a confession” Can you see the problem?

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