‘Confession on wheels’ rolls in central Philippine parish

As Filipino Catholics prepare for the “new normal,” a parish in the central Philippines has done its best to make the Sacrament of Penance, or Confession, readily available to the faithful.

The Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in the city of Tacloban in Leyte province launched a “parish mobile confessional” on Sunday, May 17, to bring the sacraments to people’s doorsteps.

The Sacrament of Penance, also commonly called the Sacrament of Reconciliation or Confession, is one of the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church.

Parish priest Benedicto Catilogo told LiCAS.News that the project aims to reach out mostly to the elderly, which comprises majority of churchgoers in city’s biggest and oldest village.

“This is a collective plan of our parish liturgical ministry in response to our present circumstances,” said Monsignor Catilogo.

At least 80 households have been visited by the mobile confessional a few hours after it rolled out.

To ensure that the facility remains clean, volunteers disinfect it with alcohol before anyone gets in.

Monsignor Catilogo said it is “uplifting and heartwarming” to see parishioners avail of the sacrament of reconciliation after weeks of staying home because of the lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Although the parish continued to celebrate Masses that are broadcast through a public address system, parishioners continue to hunger for the other sacraments, said the priest.

A priest blesses the mobile confessional of the Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in the city of Tacloban in Leyte province. (Photo courtesy of the Our Lady of Lourdes Parish)

The mobile confessional will now become a regular part of church services in the parish, especially for those who cannot go out of their homes — the elderly and the youth — due to quarantine restrictions.

“Delivery of services, goods and commodities to homes, offices and institutions has recently become part of the social landscape. So, we thought why not bring the goods of God, the goods of the Church right at the doorsteps of God’s people,” said Monsignor Catilogo.

The priest said there are still many difficulties and challenges ahead for the Church, but he believed it can be addressed “with a bit of imagination.”

“The Lord has many ways to bring his presence and the Church’s presence to his people,” he said. “These are best times to be truly Jesus’ priest,” he added.

He said they are planning to build more mobile confessionals to reach out to more people.

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