The House of Studies mobilizes to minister the penitential sacrament.
When roadside confessionals started popping up during the initial weeks of the quarantine, it sounded like an innovative way for Catholics to practice their faith in an unprecedented time of isolation. Now in the midst of Holy Week, however, they have become an invaluable opportunity for the faithful to receive the penitential sacrament to prepare our souls for this most holy of Catholic holidays, Easter.
To aid the many priests of the Archdiocese of Washington in their ministering, the Dominican House of Studies, a seminary of the Order of Preachers serving the Province of St. Joseph, is mobilizing their friars to hear confessions as well. They welcome all Catholics to join them in the parking lot of St. John Paul II Seminary, where they can confess their sins from the safety of their own car.
They list the hours on the Dominican House of Studies website:
Wednesday, April 8 — 2:00–4:00 p.m. Thursday, April 9 — 2:00–4:00 p.m. Friday, April 10 — 6:00–8:00 p.m. Saturday, April 11 — 2:00–4:00 p.m.
Everyone is welcome to come and confess, but they ask all faithful to follow the ground rules they have set up to ensure the safety of all parties and allow for traffic to flow smoothly.
When arriving at St. John Paul II Seminary, the faithful should form a line of cars that can be seen to in an organized fashion. If there are too many cars in line already, an usher may ask newcomers to circle the block and come back a little later.
When they reach the confessor, drivers should only roll down the window enough so that they can be heard. The bottom of the window should still be high enough to cover their nose and mouth, to protect both the priest and the faithful from possible exposure to the coronavirus.
Those seeking absolution are reminded that there can be no one else present in the car during your confession. In order to protect this sacred seal, any other parties present in the vehicle will be asked to step out and wait on the periphery of the property or in another area, where they can maintain an appropriate distance from others.
The guidelines also ask that folks leave in an orderly fashion after their confession, so as to not hold up the lines which they expect could get somewhat long in the days to come. All Catholics are encouraged to check with their local parishes for special accommodations in these troubling times.