A Successful Mission

I was sent to preach a parish mission in a small parish church. There was a family who was helping the pastor prepare for the mission. They were very devoted to Our Lady of Fatima. For six months before the mission, this family and two other families gave up their Saturday mornings to come to the church and pray the rosary for the success of the mission. This was especially difficult for the children, but they believed their prayers would help.

On the opening day of the mission only thirty-five people came. The pastor, the three families, and I were all were very disappointed. After the first service I went with the pastor to the confessionals.

The first person who entered my confessional began by saying, "Father, it has been forty years since my last confession."

The second person who came in began with, "Father, it has been twenty-five years since my last confession."

I was overwhelmed. The third person who came in said, "Father, I donít know how long it has been since my last confession."

One after the other, with a few exceptions, had been away from the sacrament for a long, long time.

I came out of the confessional thinking I was the last one in the church, only to find the pastor coming out of his confessional. We met in the center aisle, and before I could tell him of the wonderful experience I had, he excitedly told me: "I have never heard confessions like that in all my priesthood. People who have been away for years and years came."

I then shared my experience with him and we both looked to the tabernacle and gave thanks to the Lord and Our Lady.

The next day we shared with the three families what had happened and how their prayers during those six months helped so many people find the courage to approach the sacrament.

We all agreed that the mission was successful, not because of the number who attended, but because of those who found new life through the sacrament of reconciliation.

Fr. Edward R. Wolanski, CP Shelter Island Heights, New York