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6/23/2016 9:00:00 AM
Adirondack churches will host 'Vacation Reconciliation Week'
FATHER O'KANE SPEAKS AT MASS. In related news, a covenant has been approved to make him
FATHER O'KANE SPEAKS AT MASS. In related news, a covenant has been approved to make him "priest associate" (sacramental minister) for Blessed Sacrament parish in Bolton Landing, in addition to his current assignments. He'd cover the parish from October to May.
Rev. John O'Kane is jumping on the bandwagon to sponsor a 24-hour "marathon of confessions" at four parishes in the Adirondack Mountains for the Church's Year of Mercy.

Emulating Rev. Robert Longobucco and Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger, Father O'Kane will offer "Vacation Reconciliation Week" in July.

Father Longobucco held such a marathon in March at St. Kateri Tekakwitha parish in Schenectady; the Bishop heard confessions for 24 hours straight at St. Mary's in Glens Falls the same month.

The priest's tactic is different from previous marathons. From July 3-9, he'll spend four hours each day (with one day of rest) at a different Warren County church.

"I could go 24 hours [straight]," he remarked, "but I worried about what I would say to people" after being in the confessional for a nonstop marathon at one church.

Days and times

Instead, Father O'Kane has created this schedule:

•  July 3, noon-4 p.m. at St. Isaac Jogues parish's Chestertown worship site;

•  July 4, 4-8 p.m. at St. Isaac Jogues' worship site in Hague;

•  July 5, 8 p.m.-midnight at St. Cecilia's parish in Warrensburg;

•  July 7, midnight-4 a.m. at St. James in North Creek;

•  July 8, 4-8 a.m. in Chestertown;

•  July 9, 8 a.m.-noon in North Creek.

Father O'Kane is pastor of the "Northern Points cluster" that includes St. Isaac Jogues and St. James. He extended his offer to St. Cecilia's -- where, he said, parish life director Sister Linda Hogan, CSJ, "graciously accepted" his invitation to be included in the marathon.

Offering reconciliation at four Adirondack churches in the summer, said Father O'Kane, will give many vacationing Catholics a chance to receive the sacrament. He's envisioning some people returning to confession after a long time.

"I'm hoping they're more relaxed because they're on vacation," he added. Reconciliation "is rest. This is God. Reconciliation is part of [going on a] retreat."

Rest in God
A flier he created for the marathon states: "Vacations are the perfect time to take a break from the everyday things that can wear on our bodies and souls. We allow ourselves to put aside jobs, classes, alarm clocks and schedules, and instead take naps, get away, binge-watch new shows, enjoy our gorgeous lakes and mountains, and catch up with family and old friends. It is our golden opportunity to slow down, rest and do the things that bring us joy.

"The best vacations leave us feeling like new people -- fresh and ready to take on what discipleship of Christ may bring us. This year, Pope Francis has called the 'Year of Mercy.' The Holy Father wants us all to know that 'God forgives and God forgives always!' What a way for us to find true rest, peace, joy and vacation by allowing God's forgiveness to touch and cleanse our hearts through the beautiful sacrament of reconciliation.

"Find some time during our nation's birthday week [to] allow yourself to be open to the presence of God's love. Take part in our Vacation Reconciliation Week. This summer's opportunity will reconcile you with our almighty, loving God!"

Easy process
Whether they're summer visitors or year-'round parishioners, Father O'Kane intends to make it easy for penitents. He promised to have the Act of Contrition printed out so people who've forgotten it can read it aloud, and he won't give difficult penances.

He also noted that, for anyone who's worried about confessing, there's "a seal of the confessional we have to honor as priests." Besides, "I don't even remember what people say. It goes right out of my head!"

It's "innate," the priest said, for Catholics to feel a little intimidated by the sacrament of reconciliation, but God is always ready to forgive.

"Just come, and trust God's love and mercy," he said.

Father O'Kane hopes he'll grow as a priest through his confession marathon and invites other priests to come help out.

He said his preparation will be simple: "I'll go get the sacrament."

Receiving God's forgiveness himself, he explained, helps him "better understand where people are coming from."

(For more information, call St. Isaac Jogues parish at 518-494-5229.)

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