Catholics throughout the Diocese of St. Cloud will celebrate a "Festival of Forgiveness" on Friday, March 31, to help every person experience the life-changing power of God's love and mercy.

On this date, the Sacrament of Reconciliation will be available for a 12-hour period at designated churches throughout the 16-county diocese, including the Church of St. Mary in Alexandria.

The Festival of Forgiveness comes during Lent, a penitential season before Easter when Christians are encouraged to enter more deeply into prayer, fasting and charitable works.

This is the second consecutive year that churches in the diocese are hosting the celebration. An estimated 3,000 confessions were heard throughout the diocese on the festival day last March. Pastors reported that many of the people who attended had been away from the Sacrament for years, some for decades.