Wednesday, November 12, 2008

More Priests, Less service?

Lisante Cuts Confession Hours at OLL
Msgr. Lisante and Marissa Berenson at the Christopher Awards. Apparently, Jim Lisante has more important things to do on Saturday nights than hear confessions.Despite the fact that there was no statement from Bp. Murphy in this week's bulletin, there was another announcement which caused a lot of raised eyebrows among the parishioners I know there.OLL has always been one of the few parishes in the diocese to have Saturday night confessions in addition to confessions on Saturday afternoon between 4-5 pm. In addition, confession has always been available after the 8am weekday Mass and on Saturday mornings.In this week's bulletin, it was announced that starting in Advent, confession hours at the parish will be restricted to the 4-5pm slot on Saturday afternoons.Saturday night confessions have always been popular with the OLL parishioners, and more than a hundred people receive confession every Saturday in the afternoon and evening time slots combined.How all those people will now be accommodated in one hour is difficult to imagine.It's also difficult to understand why confession hours are being reduced when there are now six priests serving the parish: Msgr. Lisante, Fr. Heinlein, Fr. Seagriff, Fr. Paul, Fr. Cletus and Fr. Mason.Reducing the hours of confession is in direct contradiction to Bishop Murphy's request last year in his pastoral letter on Penance and Reconciliation in which he strongly advocates the frequent reception of confession: "It is my deepest desire that all of us avail ourselves frequently of this sacrament and that it might have a renewal of esteem and of practice within our beloved Diocese."The bishop then made this specific request:"Second, I thank the priests for the practice of having confessions available once a week usually for an hour before the first Vigil Mass on Saturday afternoon. By this letter I am asking every pastor, without exception, TO ESTABLISH AT LEAST ONE ADDITIONAL HOUR at a different time during the week when there will be a priest in the confessional to hear confessions."Msgr. Lisante, by drastically cutting confession hours in half, instead of keeping them at the two to three hours the Bishop requested, is clearly not following the wishes of his bishop in this regard. He's not even following his own advice. At the 3rd Annual Mercy Conference this February, Lisante extolled the sacrament of Confession as "one of the most beautiful ways to ask for His mercy," and as a "treasure in the Church."Here's what he had to say: "I believe [the sacrament of Penance] is one of those treasures in the Church that we just take for granted, " he said, "or in the case of most Catholics, we simply ignore."He then used a crude analogy (more characteristic of the Lavender Mafia than a Catholic priest) to explain the benefits of the sacrament:"Some of us need to have a spiritual enema," he said, to great laughs. "Where is the joy? Where's the delight? I'm forgiven. I'm delighted to be forgiven. If I can not walk out into this world with a smile and a joy in my heart, then I'm not getting it."I'm not getting it either. If Msgr. Lisante really believes confession will bring more smiles and joy to the world, why is he making it so inaccessible for his people? Perhaps it's putting a crimp in his Saturday night schedule, though it has been noted by several parishioners that Msgr. Lisante has not heard confessions at the parish since his arrival four months ago. (For that matter, he doesn't seem to offer many Masses, either.)Just what does the flamboyant and dashing Jim Lisante do with all his time? Perhaps that will have to be explored in future posts.
Posted by JustTheFacts at 12:18 PM

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