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Priest flies in the shape of a cross over diocese to bless it during COVID-19

'We loved the idea of being able to help connect Jesus with the people of the diocese in this time where we are not able to gather and celebrate Mass together at church.'
Thu Apr 9, 2020 - 12:58 pm EST
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GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan, April 9, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — A Catholic priest in Michigan took to the friendly skies last weekend on Palm Sunday to bless those who live in his diocese. 

Fr. Jegar Fickel and his longtime friend Kristopher Piotrowski rented a plane and flew in the shape of a cross from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. over the Diocese of Grand Rapids in Western Michigan. Jonathan Stepanski from Muskegon, also a friend, rode along to record the unique blessing.

The youngest of 11 children, Fickel grew up in the nearby town of Holland, a mostly Dutch-Reformed community. After studying at St. Louis University, he entered St. John Vianney Seminary in Minnesota and was ordained in 2016. He currently serves as Parochial Vicar at St. Mary’s and St. Paul’s church in Big Rapids. He also works at the Newman Center at Ferris State University. 

Stepanski told LifeSite that the plane ride was his wife Andrea and her family’s idea. 

“We loved the idea of being able to help connect Jesus with the people of the diocese in this time where we are not able to gather and celebrate Mass together at church,” he said. “I came along to video the event…so people would know at the very least that they had been blessed by Jesus's presence.”

During the flight, Fr. Fickel, Stepanski, and Piotrowski said several rosaries and offered prayers so the people of West Michigan would have a deepening of their faith, hope, and charity during this difficult time apart from the sacraments.

“Holy Father, we just ask that as we go and fly over the Diocese of Grand Rapids that we may be close to you here in the Blessed Sacrament, that we can keep our hearts and our minds just in tune to the reality of you being present to us,” Fickel prayed.

“We just ask in a special way that you fill each heart in the diocese, both Catholics and not Catholics, believers and unbelievers, everyone in this vicinity. May they feel in a special way your presence in this your love being bestowed upon them today. And keep us safe as we travel.”

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Father Fickel has been live-streaming his Masses at 12:10 p.m. EST on his Facebook page during the coronavirus outbreak.

Fickel is not the first Catholic priest to perform this sort of blessing.

In New Jersey last month, Fr. Anthony Manuppella, pastor of St. Gianna Beretta Molla Parish in Northfield, took the Blessed Sacrament and a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary on a plane ride above the Diocese of Camden and prayed for the end of this “modern day plague, the coronavirus.”  

Stepanski told LifeSiteNews, “It was a very beautiful time and day spent with father and Jesus. Probably will be one of my most memorable Palm Sundays.”


  catholic, coronavirus, michigan

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