"The Church Whisperer" reports on the proliferation of confessional centers, including one in the Citadel Mall of Colorado Springs that somehow had escaped my attention (HT to Ralph Luker and Chuck Westmoreland). As it happens, the mall in question has been in fairly rapid decline recently, as the upscale shops have moved to the north of the city and the older "exurban" shopping centers go into decay -- signified by Macy's closing up shop in the mall, and Mervyn's being replaced by the decidedly downscale Burlington Coat Factory. Anyway, none of this has seemed to affect the Catholic business being conducted there. I'm briefly crossposting here:
Faced with continually declining numbers of penitents, the wire notes dioceses that have gotten creative with expanding access to the Confessional... including at least one venue that gives new meaning to the phrase "one-stop shopping":
Located on the upper level of the Citadel Mall in Colorado Springs, between the Burlington Coat Factory and Dillard's department stores, the Catholic Center, which offers Mass and the sacrament of reconciliation, is a place shoppers can find solace away from crowds.
"Some people are hesitant to stop into an organized church, but the Catholic Center offers a 'no strings attached' approach," Msgr. Robert E. Jaeger, vicar general of the diocese, told Catholic News Service in a telephone interview.
"The Capuchins wanted to make contact with those who have fallen away from the church. Visitors to the center are anonymous and can either stop in regularly or just once," he said. "People can say, 'Well, I've finished my shopping. I think I'll stop inside for a moment for myself.'"
Staffed by five Capuchin Franciscans, the Catholic Center at the mall is financially supported and promoted by the Diocese of Colorado Springs, the Capuchin Province of Mid-America and the Knights of Columbus.
The center operates during mall hours, providing information on Catholic charities and parishes. It also houses a Catholic bookstore and a chapel where Mass is celebrated twice a day and confessions are heard from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m.
"The Catholic Center has been here since 2001 and it has been very successful," Msgr. Jaeger told CNS. "So far, we've had 16,000 attending the 12:10 p.m. Mass and 72,000 attending the 6 p.m. Mass."