A MOBILE confession unit called the Mercy Bus has been launched by the Catholic Diocese of Salford.
The idea behind the mission is to reach out to people who may have become disillusioned or disconnected with the Church.
The Lenten Tour, as the project has been called, will see a double decker bus with priest on board, making its way throughout Greater Manchester and Lancashire.
Father Frankie Mulgrew – the son of comedian Jimmy Cricket – recently met Pope Francis in Rome, where the Holy Father blessed images of the Mercy Bus.
He commended the diocese for the innovative idea.
A spokesperson for the Salford diocese said: “Father Frank presented images of the Mercy Bus to Pope Francis in Rome, much to the Holy Father’s interest and delight!”
Father Mulgrew said: “We were inspired by the Pope who, when he was as cardinal in Argentina, would celebrate open-air Masses in the poorest areas of his diocese.”
The Mercy Bus is to make its Lenten tour across Greater Manchester and Lancashire, between between now and Easter (March 27).
On his Twitter feed, Father Mulgrew said of the Mercy Bus’s opening day of business: “Wheels up…end of 1st day for #MercyBus ’twas a greatly blessed &fruitful day #NextStop Bolton town centre, next Sat.”
Father Mulgrew often reaches out in unconventional ways to his congregation.
On his Twitter account he describes himself as Catholic Priest/ex-comic, editor of ‘Does God LOL?’
At the beginning of the mission Bishop John Arnold also blessed the Mercy Bus.
The Mercy Bus will be visiting town centres and other locations round the Diocese throughout Lent.
Members of the public will be able to have a chat, talk to a priest, got to confession, or just find out about the current Year of Mercy.
The Mercy Bus will be at the following locations in the coming weeks:
Saturday, February 13: Bolton Town Centre (Deansgate)
Saturday, February 20: Burnley
Saturday, March 5: Tesco Car Park, Bury
Saturday, March 12: Market Square, Ashton-under-Lyne Town Centre
Saturday, March 19: North Manchester
Tuesday, March 22: South Manchester