The pop-up unit which priests organised in Liffey Valley Shopping Centre

PRIESTS from several parishes pooled their resources to provide a pop-up Easter confessional on Saturday – at Liffey Valley Shopping Centre.
One of the  clever clerics told The Gazette: “We’re following the lead of Pope Francis who says you have to be out where the people are.”
The padres used their initiative and transformed a vacant retail unit into a drop-in centre offering a space for reflection, prayer, pastoral guidance and a chat.
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Clondalkin priest Fr Damien Farnon, the brains behind the novel scheme, told The Gazette: “We realised that an increasing number of people are working on Holy Thursday and Good Friday, so they’re just not able to get to church.”
The makeshift chapel – the first of its kind in Dublin – saw a steady stream of worshippers for the five hours it stayed open.
Fr Farnon said: “I was a wee bit apprehensive, but it was a great success. Will we do it again? Yes, definitely.”
He added: “We’re following the lead of Pope Francis who says you have to be out where the people are.
“We knew that whatever most people were doing on Easter Saturday afternoon, they weren’t going to [do it] in the churches, so there was no point in us sitting idle either. I couldn’t get over the number of people, particularly young families, who were stopping by. From four o’clock on we actually had a queue.”
The Peace in the Valley initiative saw seven priests, two pastoral workers and Neilstown-based Sr Carmel Earls combine their efforts to hear confession, offer blessings and even provide a kids’ pray and play corner.
Sr Carmel said: “For me, it was a new experience of renewal and resurrection for our church. Many stopped off at the information table where I sat, to say ‘thank-you’ for providing the opportunity for them to relax, pray and go to confession.”
Staff at the centre stopped by on their break and students asked for a blessing ahead of their end of year exams.
“It gave the clergy a great boost,” Pastoral worker Frank Brown said. “There was a non-stop flow of people, young and old – people who admitted they had not been to church or confession in 40-odd years.”
Liffey Valley centre operations manager David Ward added: “It was a great success for Sr Carmel and Fr Damien. “It definitely was a case of thinking outside the confessional box.”

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