While confession lines continue to shrink at many Catholic colleges, an increasing number of college students are turning to social networks to anonymously air their dirty laundry. At least three Facebook confession pages have been created by students at Catholic universities – the University of Notre Dame, DePaul University, and Boston College.
According to The Observer, ND Confessions has received 9,000 messages and has 3,800 subscribers.
“In my opinion, it’s a judge-free zone where we can get everything off our chests without anyone ever knowing it was us,” writes Scene Editor Maddie Daly. “Go ahead, post it. No one will ever know it was you.”
… my friends and I stayed up half the night reading the funniest posts out loud, dying of laughter and craving more posts, as well as trying to come up with something original to post about ourselves. The entire campus was buzzing about it the next day, and in every one of my classes I overheard conversations repeating posted confessions.
Our generation is so connected to the internet that we will allow something as little as an anonymous Facebook page to rule our conversations and consume an absurd amount of our time.
According to The DePaulia, thousands of students have made use of the DePaul Confession Facebook page to “confess” illegal activities and sexual exploits, including alleged sexual behavior with professors.
The article quotes the anonymous creator of the DePaul page saying that it receives between 200 and 300 submissions per day.
Not all students, however, see the page as positive.
“It’s just a bad representation of DePaul,” Adriana Henriquez, a sophomore public relations and advertising major, told the DePaulia.
Matt Palazzolo shared in the Boston College Heights that many students have used the Boston College Confessions Facebook page as a way to declare that they are homosexual.
… take the surprising number of people who have come out about their sexuality on the confessions page. BC has several GLBTQ support and alliance groups, as well as an official Coming Out Day. Clearly these outreach organizations aren’t adequately serving the BC student body if students come out not in a supportive group of peers, but in an anonymous Facebook group two months before graduation.
...These online confession groups could be symptomatic of modern society’s numerous flaws, such as impersonal electronic communications and shamefully pervasive bullying and discrimination.
"Our culture is very narcissistic," noted Fr. Justin Dean, assistant chaplain at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas. "People feel a burden of guilt that they want to release themselves of. We have an innate need to get these things out."
Fr. Dean stressed that while there's a need, he warned against putting such information online and said that doing so certainly doesn't meet a person's need completely.
"How anonymous is the Internet?" asked Fr. Dean. "IP addresses can be looked up. Putting anything like that on the Internet publicly could ruin people's lives. Putting it online meets a need, but it doesn't meet it adequately. There's a need for confession and absolution. People need the Sacrament of Penance. Christ forgave sins while on Earth. He touched people with his grace and he gave that same ability to priests, so that people can be lifted up and restored."
Benedictine College has witnessed a dramatic embrace of the Sacrament of Reconciliation in recent years. (See photo below courtesy of Benedictine College).
"At a minimum, we have confession twice a day - some days we have it four times a day. On average, it's available three times per day," said Fr. Dean. "The demand has been unbelievable. We've been trying to get four confessionals going every Sunday. It's common to see at least eight people standing in each line before Mass, and we provide the Sacrament after Mass as well. It's a blessing and a grace to see our students trying to live their faith and taking sin seriously."
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