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 confession 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," said Fr. Patrick.
In order to keep up with the ever-changing and growing community, Fr. Patrick and St. Thomas Aquinas are taking confessions to go.
"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. People walking by asked "Is this real?" Fr. Patrick responded, "Yeah it's for real!"
"What is happening? Kenny said. "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 then you'll be on your way.
Other students News 18 spoke with said they really like the idea, but it is a bit funny.
"I thought it was pretty funny when I first saw it, but I think it's kind of cool that it's there and it's spreading the message," said Liv James, a freshman at Purdue.
"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, to look at yourself and say this is where I screwed up but this is how I do better," Evans said.
Fr. Patrick is excited about the golf cart, and said it's another way to connect with people. He believes in order to get people to come to the church, you have to actually leave the building and connect with them where they are. He 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. "It's never a bad idea to go to confession."
So Father Patrick wants to know: "How long has it been since your last confession?"
Father Patrick expects the cart to become a staple on campus. He plans to drive it every single day.
If you are more comfortable with confessing privately, St. Thomas offers confession twice a day.
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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