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Drive-thru confessions, outdoor Masses: Heroic priests find creative ways to nourish faithful

Dedicated clergy find ingenious ways to bring the sacraments to the people during the pandemic.
Tue Mar 17, 2020 - 7:57 pm EST
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Drive thru confessions at St. Edward the Confessor Catholic Church in Bowie, Maryland Virna Flores, Facebook

March 17, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas has asked all bishops, priests and deacons to “find creative ways to give Our Daily Bread to the faithful members of the Body of Christ,” but clergy around the world had already begun to answer the call to find innovative ways to deliver the sacraments and otherwise keep the faith alive in their parishes and dioceses. 

“Pray that all bishops, priests and deacons may find creative ways to give Our Daily Bread to the faithful members of the Body of Christ,” pleaded Bishop Strickland in a tweet. 

“The virus is horrendous but spiritual death by starvation is worse,” he continued. “May the Eucharist truly be the source & summit of our life in Christ.”

Bishop Strickland isn’t the only one issuing an appeal for ingenuity in these extraordinary times.

“Priests: Come up with creative ways of making sacraments available!” encouraged Fr. Lamansky, a priest studying in Rome. 

“One possibility: Sit in the parking lot and set up a monstrance. People can come and pray without leaving their vehicles. Offer Communion through the car window (thoroughly sanitizing your hands after each time),” suggested Lamansky.

“Just because public Masses are suspended doesn't mean people should be without the sacraments. Think outside the box. Come up with ways to make sacraments available in a manner that avoids contagion and respects diocesan policies and civil laws,” added Fr. Lamansky.  

Drive-in theatre style Mass in Indiana

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Fr. Shaun Whittington of St. Nicholas Catholic Church in Sunman, Indiana, forged ahead last weekend and offered Mass in the parish parking lot, not unlike drive-in movie theaters of times past.  

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Fr. Whittington and his drive-in congregation SOURCE: Facebook

Father conducted the Mass from a trailer perched on a hill above the church parking lot where parishioners participated from their parked cars.

“Parking Lot Mass was a success! We had positive feedback! Thanks to Fr. Whittington for coming up with an innovative solution so that we are able to attend Mass and receive Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament while also being compliant to the COVID-19 safeguard directives,” declared a statement on the parish’s Facebook page.

Elsewhere on the St. Nicholas Facebook page, a message notes that while the parish’s planned St. Joseph feast day dinner has been canceled, parishioners are encouraged to “Bring bread to be blessed & taken home.”

Drive-thru confessional in Maryland

After the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. shut down public Masses, Fr. Scott Holmer of St. Edward the Confessor Catholic Church in Bowie, Maryland was undeterred from keeping confessions available to his parishioners during the time Mass would normally be held and multiple other times during the week.  

“Since I cannot guarantee your physical safety by opening up the Church or the office to visitors, I have set up a “drive-through confessional” and will be hearing confessions in the Church parking lot to maintain a six-foot distance while penitents stay in their cars,” wrote Fr. Holmer in a letter to parishioners. 

“The lights might not be on for you in the Church but they will be in the parking lot!” he added.  

“This is turning out to be a Lent unlike any other,” notrd Fr. Holmer. “I believe the Lord is inviting us to an increased concern for the welfare of our neighbors and offering us the opportunity to make sacrifices for them. What a great Lenten penance for us all.”

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St. John Neumann parish transforms the main church into a 24/7 Adoration Chapel. SOURCE: Doug Mainwaring, LifeSiteNews

Main church turned into a 24/7 Adoration Chapel

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Holy hand sanitizer dispensers replace Holy Water at St. John Neumann Parish in Gaithersburg, Maryland. SOURCE: Doug Mainwaring, LifeSiteNews

Also in the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., Monsignor Robert Panke, pastor at St. John Neumann in Gaithersburg, Maryland, has turned the main parish church into a 24- hour, seven-days-per-week Adoration Chapel.  

While the parish has had a perpetual Adoration Chapel since 2006, it is small and could only accommodate a handful of people in cramped quarters. By placing the monstrance on the altar in the main church, many people are able to spread out and adore the Lord’s presence without having to worry about being in close proximity to others.

Additionally, after the Holy Water fonts had to be removed due to concerns about spreading the virus, dispensers of hand sanitizer were blessed and set in place of the fonts, with a sign that assures parishioners:

IT HAS BEEN BLESSED

They shall wash their hands and their feet, so that they may not die.  

It shall be a statute forever to them, even to him and to his offspring

 throughout their generations. 

Exodus 30:21.

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Fr. Giuseppe Corbari and his congregation in Italy

A ‘flash of creativity’ fills an empty parish church during Mass

A small-town Italian priest, saddened at the prospect of celebrating Mass without his parishioners, sent out a call to them asking them to take selfies and send them to him.  

“Send me photographs of yourselves, of you and your family, the photo of your face, I need to see faces in front of me when I celebrate Mass next Sunday,” explained Fr. Giuseppe Corbari, according to a WantedinMilan.com report. “I will print the photo you send me and I will stick it with sellotape on the pew: it is a way to make me feel less alone.”

“Obviously I will put the children in the front benches, the altar boys on the altar, and all the adults in the other places,” added Fr. Corbari, who said he was happy to once again have his church full of smiling faces.

Vatican News said Fr. Corbari’s ingenuity was a “flash of creativity” that was appreciated by Pope Francis. 

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Note to readers:  

If you know of other examples of priests and bishops finding ingenious ways to deliver the sacraments or simply to keep the faith alive in their parishes and dioceses during the global coronavirus shutdown, please forward your tips to: [email protected] 


  archdiocese of washington, dc, catholic, confessions, coronavirus, drive-in mass, eucharistic adoration, joseph strickland, mass, priests

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