by Jack Figge
Special to The Leaven
An empty parking lot turned into a field of grace after three archdiocesan priests broke off to separate corners, donned purple stoles and started hearing confessions.
Pilgrims arose early to attend the morning catechesis session at Parque Urbano do Silvado on Aug. 2. As they waited, they played hacky sack and talked with each other.
The group’s priests — Fathers Luke Doyle, Thomas Maddock and Dan Morris — saw an opportunity during the downtime to provide pilgrims with the sacrament of reconciliation.
“There was a desire among members of our group to have more designated times for confession,” said Father Maddock, associate pastor at Christ the King Church in Topeka. “It wasn’t my idea, but I was more than happy to jump in and start hearing confessions.”
The idea came from archdiocesan vocation director Father Dan Morris, and after seeing the example of the Kansas City priests, other priests set up their own confessionals.
“The priesthood is universal,” said Father Maddock. “When I see another brother priest hearing confessions, that is beautiful because we are on mission together.
“My priesthood isn’t just for the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas. It is for every person in the world so that they can receive God’s mercy and love.”
The act set a powerful example of a priest’s servant heart for the seminarians traveling with the group.
“Seeing those priests [hear] confessions while we were waiting for the session to start really was another reminder to me of what the priesthood is,” said Theology II seminarian Alex Rickert.
“To see them hearing and realize that is what a priest does was really encouraging,” he continued. “It was such a simple thing — there is nothing complicated about it — you just show up, put on a purple stole and be a channel of God’s mercy.”
As the catechesis session ended, James, a pilgrim from Dallas, sought Father Maddock out, gave him a hug and thanked him for hearing his confession, reminding Father Maddock of the sacrament’s power.
“Having these designated times for confession gives people an invitation to meet the Lord and receive his mercy,” said Father Maddock.
“God has a ton of grace in store for everyone on this trip,” he continued. “That grace and that mercy is communicated through confession, and then that mercy opens them up to receive more grace during the rest of this pilgrimage.”
To view the full album of photos from World Youth Day, click here.