Campus Ministry to offer Confession on the Road
Maria Paul Rangel | Thursday, October 11, 2018
Archimedes took a bath and an apple fell on Isaac Newton’s head, but all it took for Fr. Joseph Corpora to attain his aha moment was a story told by a priest from Panama in a meeting with all the Missionaries of Mercy last summer at Rome.
The priest said he had gone to a train station to hear confessions.
“I thought ‘Oh, that’s so interesting that he just went out of the church and sat in a train station,’” Corpora said. “I thought we should do something like that, too. We should go where the students are, rather than just having them come to the Basilica. That’s how it began, with one priest saying one that, that I thought was a good idea.”
What resulted from this moment of inspiration was Confession on the Road, Campus Ministry’s newest initiative to make the sacrament of confession more accessible to the members of the Notre Dame community. Now, students, faculty and staff are able to participate every Monday from noon to 1:30 p.m. at LaFortune Student Center and every Tuesday from noon to 1:30 pm and from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. at Duncan Student Center. Corpora said there is no set location, but they will find an empty space and put up a sign.
This new opportunity to receive the sacrament of reconciliation allows members of the community to skip lines at the Basilica and receive the sacrament on their way to Star Ginger or Starbucks.
“I think this is in many ways just lowering the barrier to entry there, lowering the anxiety and letting students know that ultimately this is a sacrament of God’s mercy and love,” Fr. Nate Wills who participates in the initiative, said.
Though confessing sins in the middle of campus’s two most populated areas might seem unorthodox and unconventional, Fr. John Herman, a participant in this program, praised its uniqueness.
“It is a very creative initiative that responds to what Pope Francis says about the church needing to move out outside the church’s walls to reach out to the people and their needs,” he said. “I think it is a great way for us to be where students are and to make the sacrament of confession available to them in a way that is right there. They don’t have to go out of their way, they don’t have to make an effort. It’s right there and accessible.”
Certainly, receiving the sacrament in the student centers varies from the traditional environment at the Basilica, especially because of the informality and spur-of-moment approach; yet this could actually be one of its greatest advantages, Wills said.
“It could be more spontaneous, less, sort of, filtered and more honest about where people are and what’s on their hearts right now,” he said. “There’s a beauty there of, you know, you just go with what you have on your heart in the moment.”
Moreover, the change in scenery lends itself to teach valuable lessons about Catholicism Fr. Matthew Kuzcora, one of the priests who hears confessions, said.
“Being at a student center, I use it to explain that God is everywhere, not only at church,” he said.
Yet, whether at the Basilica or at the student centers, the truth is that “the sacrament is the same in both places,” Fr. Kevin Grove said.
“Confession on the Road makes evident to all members of this campus the overwhelming all-the-time availability of God’s abundant love and mercy,” he said.
Wills encouraged members of the community to take advantage of Confession on the Road.
“This is a unique opportunity, it’s a unique place in that sense, and you may never have this many opportunities to encounter the sacraments in your life as you do now, and I think people who really take advantage of that are maximizing their Notre Dame experience,” he said. “Because it really is a part of growing as a person, it’s part of discovering who you are, and my hope is that as people continue to discover who they are in college, that they recognize that first and foremost, beyond everything else and above everything else, they are a beloved child of God.
“We all make mistakes and we all mess up and the sacrament of reconciliation is a lifelong journey for all of us that we keep on coming back to about healing and restoring our relationship with Christ.”