CNS p hoto/Tyler Orsburn

Toronto hosts Advent Day of Confession

  • December 6, 2013

TORONTO - This Advent season, churches across the archdiocese of Toronto will open day and night on Dec. 11 for a special Day of Confessions.

This will be the first time that the Day of Confessions will be held during Advent in the archdiocese. It follows on the heels of the archdiocese’s first Day of Confessions held in Lent earlier this year.

Cardinal Thomas Collins, based on the success of the Lent event, decided he wanted it to occur twice a year, said Neil MacCarthy, director of public relations and communications.

“So he’s asked the parishes of the archdiocese to hold a Day of Confessions once during Lent and Advent.”

The theme this season is “Let every heart prepare Him room.”

People think of Lent as more of a season for reconciliations, said MacCarthy, but the sacrament is “a good way to stay grounded and prepare for Christmas… take the rocks out of our pockets and empty that dead weight and enter into a joyful season.”

All parishes will take part in the event, and a web site has been created for the Day of Confessions, which includes the confession times at different churches. Mass is said in more than 35 languages across the 225-parish archdiocese, and MacCarthy expects confession to also be available in these languages.

The Day of Confessions web site ( includes a how-to guide for individuals, from pre-confession tips on how to prepare and examine your conscience, to what to expect and pray mid-confession, to post-confession penance. The web site also links to an examination of conscience guide in eight languages: English, French, Chinese, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish and Vietnamese.

“When word gets out that the archdiocese of Toronto has created this resource in so many different languages, I hope it’s something we can share with other dioceses in Canada that are also as diverse as we are,” said Kris Dmytrenko, communications co-ordinator with the archdiocese.

In all languages, the examination of conscience guide is split into two categories, one for adults and the other for children. The archdiocese chose to divide the examination of conscience along age lines because “people have, depending on their stage in life, different questions and different kinds of issues,” said Dmytrenko, who adds that high school age and upwards is considered adult.

The site also includes resources for parishes, such as prayers, homily aids and how to spread the word about the event in church and on social media.

In general, the site’s resources can be used at any time of year in parishes, schools and homes, which is “the ultimate triad we speak of in terms of faith formation for our families and for our young people,” said MacCarthy. “It’s not just the responsibility of the parish, it’s not just the responsibility of the school or the home. We’re all working together. Everyone has a role to play.”

Organizers are also encouraging the lay faithful to print out the posters available online and post them in their communities and to take friends who have shown interest in attending the Day of Confessions with them.

The diocese of London in southwestern Ontario was the first Canadian diocese to host a Day of Confessions in Lent 2010. Mark Adkinson, communications and development director at the diocese of London, helped develop the all day confession during Lent 2007 in the archdiocese of Washington, DC, when he worked there.

“Every parish, every church, every priest is hearing confessions that day,” said Adkinson, who says an estimated 20,000 confessions each year happen on that day.

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