Yesterday I held two 'reconciliation services' in the parish; one in the morning at our smaller centre, where some twenty (more senior) people came and another in the evening in the main church. I had asked two other priests to help, and they kindly came. The participants? Ten. From a Sunday Mass attendance of between 250 and 350.
I have read so often that the reason people do not come to confession is that the priests are failing in their duty to preach about it, or make opportunities. In this parish, I offer an hour and a half every week (distributed through the three churches) (when I sit alone saying my breviary), and a conveniently timed 'reconciliation service' during Advent and Lent. And I do preach about it. Occasionally very directly.
In the past, I have been told that it is 'forbidden' to hear confessions during Mass. I know that this advice is false.
I should add that the times are calculated to be easy and available, and that the opportunity in the main church coincides with the hour's exposition of the Blessed Sacrament that happens daily.
I know excellent priests who hear confessions before every Mass; these tend to be city-centre parishes, and this would simply not work here.
So, I would be interested to know whether anyone has tried the experiment of having visiting priests hearing confessions during Sunday Mass a couple of times a year.
Or, frankly, I would be grateful for any advice at all.
I am very depressed about this. My parishioners clearly think that they are saints. Some may be, but most, I suspect, are no more saintly than I am. Well, perhaps a little bit more.