A priest converted an old ambulance into a mobile confessional—the Spiritual Care Unit. It contains a kneeler and curtain, holy water and rosaries, Bibles and prayer cards. Father Michael Champagne drives the confessional throughout Cajun Country, parking outside restaurants and health clubs, visiting nursing homes and community festivals. He started in November 2015, according to Pope Francis’ call to be more active in bringing people back to church.
The unit has traveled 8,000 miles, made nearly 200 stops and heard 4,000 confessions.
Father Champagne shows me around the Community of Jesus Christ Crucified, pointing out the retreat center, the housing for the women religious who are part of the community, the chapel and a newly acquired building used as a food pantry and tutoring center. Drawing on Father Champagne’s creative leadership, the small community of contemplative missionaries hosted an 88-hour marathon reading of the Bible. black-cassocked Father Champagne re proud of The sisters from the community pull out portable steps, then unfold a table and load it with brochures—including an “Examination of Conscience” listing the works of mercy and the seven deadly sins. Sometimes the Radio broadcasts the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. They park for two hours, as people drive in and out of the strip mall A few shoppers ignore the confessional, which—with the music and life-sized image of Jesus fixed to its side. Many come over, hug the sisters and thank them for their work. They ask for prayers, offer to buy lunch or stand waiting their turn for confession. All came out looking lighter than when they went in. Sr. Francesca DuPre and Sr. Jeanne d'Arc are among the members of the Community of Jesus Christ Crucified who participate in the ministry of the Spiritual Care Unit. They say Confession is like getting a car wash for your soul. “You feel so good after,” she says. “All clean and bright.”