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Forgive me, Father: Church offers confessions to go on golf cart

If you saw a pastor riding around on a golf cart on Purdue's campus this week, you're not going crazy.

Posted: Sep 10, 2019 8:06 AM
Updated: Jan 22, 2020 5:09 PM

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — You know how they say God is everywhere? Well now, Father Patrick Baikauskas is everywhere. 

Fr. Patrick, Pastor and Director of Campus Ministry at St. Thomas Aquinas, is trying something new. So if you saw a pastor riding around on a golf cart on Purdue's campus this week, you're not going crazy. 

He's offering the sacrament of confession to go, and News 18 got to take a ride on what Fr. Patrick calls 'the confessions to-go cart.'

Confession is a blessed sacrament allowing Catholics to admit to their sins and receive forgiveness.

"It's certainly deafening. It's a bit terrifying," said David Evans, a member of St. Thomas Aquinas. 

"It's daunting," said Sebastian Kenny, also a member at St. Thomas Aquinas. "Who wants to admit their sins?"

Confession is also something many Catholics are afraid of, and often avoid.

"If this is a really important sacrament, let's show it!"

In order to keep up with the ever-changing and growing community, Fr. Patrick and St. Thomas Aquinas are taking a more modern approach.

"Let's get out where the people are, where the students are [and] take this golf cart out and do confessions on the go," said Fr. Patrick.

News 18 drove around with Fr. Patrick and the reactions were... as expected. Among the many confused looks, some people even asked "is this real?" Fr. Patrick responded, "yeah it's for real!"

"What is happening? Kenny asked. "Why is there confessions on the go? Why is there a priest on the cart?"

Fr. Patrick explained why. 

"Pope Francis said we're supposed to smell like the sheep," he explained. "Smelling like the sheep means you're not going to stay in that church and wait for all the people to come to us. Pope Francis wants us to go out to the people and experience them right where they are."

If you see Fr. Patrick and are interested in confessing, all you have to do is wave him down. He'll perform a traditional face-to-face confession and give you a penance, which is typically assigned prayers, and you'll be on your way. 

Other students News 18 spoke with said they really like the idea, but it is a bit comical. 

"I thought it was pretty funny when I first saw it," said Liv James, a freshman at Purdue. "But I think it's kind of cool that it's there and it's spreading the message."

"We want to honor our traditions but we don't want to be traditionalists," Fr. Patrick said. "We don't want to be so staid and so off-putting that we get stuck in the traditions without recognizing how we can bring them to people in a new way."

Evans practices confession weekly. He said the golf cart is just another way to perform the sacrament. 

"The point of confession is to receive mercy," Evans said. "To look at yourself and say, 'this is where I screwed up but this is how I do better.'"

Fr. Patrick said the golf cart is another way to connect with people. While many Catholics may believe it's going against ritual, Fr. Patrick argued that honoring tradition doesn't mean being boring. 

"I think Jesus Christ would be thrilled to see us doing something like this," Fr. Patrick said. 

Kenny agreed. He added, "it's never a bad idea to go to confession."

If you happen to pass by the confessions cart, Fr. Patrick is likely to ask "how long has it been since your last confession?"

Fr. Patrick expects the cart to become a staple on campus. He plans to drive it every day.

If you are more comfortable with confessing privately, St. Thomas offers confession twice a day on most days. 

Hours are:  

Monday through Saturday 11:00 a.m. to 11:25 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Sundays 8:15 a.m. to 8:45 a.m., 10:15 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.

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