An Irish priest is trying an unusual way of helping people confess their sins – driving a ‘mercy bus’ around town.
Fr Frankie Mulgrew – who is the son of Irish comedian Jimmy Cricket – has had a double decker bus blessed by the Pope and is taking it around the north of England during Lent.
Before Lent, he visited Rome and met Pope Francis. The Pope approved of his idea and blessed photos of the bus.
Fr Mulgrew, is now inviting people in his Salford diocese – as well as Greater Manchester and Lancashire – to visit the bus as it stops by their area.
The tour began earlier in the month and will stop at a new location every Saturday until Easter. The tour will include locations such as town centres, housing estates, homeless centres and prisons.
It has had a good response so far, attracting around 400 visitors in the first two stops – Bolton and Salford town centres.
Fr Mulgrew told the Irish News that if there was enough demand he would be happy to head home across the Irish Sea with his bus.
He said: “We just don’t know where roads may lead. If there was a request from priests in Northern Ireland for it to come across then who knows.
“The whole idea is that we are going out to people, we’re not waiting for them to come to us.
“We’re trying to give more mercy, more joy and more peace to people’s lives. We’re going out there to show where this mercy is available.
“As the great saint of Ireland St Patrick himself said, mercy is for everyone.”
People who visit the bus will have a chance to receive a blessing, go to confession or just have a chat with the priest.
They can also speak to young volunteers, listen to live music and take home ‘miraculous medals’ that have been blessed by the Pope.
Fr Mulgrew said: “There are people coming on the bus who have never had a blessing in their lives, so it’s great to see.
“There was a young man who came on the bus and received a blessing and he was just profoundly moved by it. We’re getting a lot of positive feedback.”
Fr Mulgrew was inspired to create his ‘mercy bus’ after a speech from the Pope in which he encouraged people to make an extra special effort in their faith as 2016 is the year of mercy.