My oldest son is preparing for his first confession. Consequently, I have written on this sacrament, and various things related to it, over the last few weeks. Most recently, I have written about the confessional booth. Consider this a follow up of sorts.
What can one do if the confessionals have had their screens torn out? Should we accept the ‘reconciliation room’, with all it’s touchy-feely implications, as a necessary trial? Well… no, It might not be taken up, but we aught to at least offer a solution when it’s possible.
In a couple of weeks our first penance class (there are ~40 kids) will have their first confession. There will be 4 or 5 priests available, but there are only two confessionals in the particular church being used. I offered to build a portable screen and donate it to the parish, so that the option of using it would be more available. I did some research before starting. In addition to some interesting historical photos, I discovered that a prie dieu with fold out screen is a common furnishing available from religious furniture distributers.
I am posting some of the interesting finds as well as images and details of the screen I built.
Here is an advertisement from sometime in the 1950s. It is for the “Donald acusti-mobile confessional” which folded up for storage. (click to see larger)
Here is a similar confessional in a Madison Wisconsin Church in the 40s.
Here is a link to an article from 2012 about a Catholic school which received a portable confessional. It notes, “The number of students taking advantage of the sacrament of confession has increased dramatically since we began using the new confessional.”
Now, the details on my confessional. It was fairly simple in construction: a 2′ x 4′ piece of oak cabinetry plywood with oak supports and kneeler. The screen is stamped sheet aluminum.
The kneeler section can swivel up for storage or transport, after removing the secondary bolts. (There are wing-nuts on the secondary bolts, so tools are unnecessary.)
This design could be modified in a couple of different ways. If there was desire to have it fold smaller, it would be possible to have it hinged in the middle, so as to fold in half. It would also be possible to add fold out wall panels. As configured, it could be used to instantly repair those closet style “reconciliation rooms,” which have had the dividers knocked out, by dropping one of these in the appropriate place.