PHOTOS: B.C. priests offer drive-thru confessions amid COVID-19 pandemic

The Catholic Parishes of Penticton have been offering drive-thru confessions for parishioners amid COVID-19. (Phil McLachlan - Western News)
One behind the other, cars lined up in the parking lot of St. Ann’s Catholic Parish in Penticton, waiting for their turn to confess. (Phil McLachlan - Western News)
Friday, April 10, served as the second time the Catholic Parishes of Penticton have offered drive-thru confessions, a new practice popping up in other areas of the province allowing individuals to practice their religion while social distancing. (Phil McLachlan - Western News)
With the garage door open, priest in place behind a screen, each drove in, parked, and confessed. Some did so from behind a screen in private, some chose to sit so they could see the priest. (Phil McLachlan - Western News)
Father Obi, who serves both Catholic parishes in Penticton, prepares before confessions begin. (Phil McLachlan - Western News)
“It’s been hard for people, for me too,” said Father Obi. “This is the first time as a priest I won’t be able to celebrate Easter - this is the greatest time in our Catholic tradition… it is tough.” (Phil McLachlan - Western News)
A parishioner prepares to confess to Father Obi, in the garage of St. Ann’s Parish. (Phil McLachlan - Western News)

The COVID-19 coronavirus has forced many groups to adapt and change the way they normally operate, including churches.

One behind the other, cars lined up in the parking lot of St. Ann’s Catholic Parish in Penticton, waiting for their turn to confess.

Friday, April 10, served as the second time the Catholic Parishes of Penticton have offered drive-thru confessions, a new practice popping up in other areas of the province allowing individuals to practice their religion while social distancing.

Father Nick Meisl, of St. Patrick’s Parish in Vancouver, also hosted physically-distant confessions in a parking lot on April 8.

(Story continues below)

Priest in residence, Father Nick Meisl listens to a physically distanced confession in a parking garage at St. Patrick’s Parish in Vancouver, Wednesday, April 8, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

With the garage door open, priest in place behind a screen, each drove in, parked, and confessed. Some did so from behind a screen in private, some chose to sit so they could see the priest.

“The reason why we are doing it this way, is because we still want to connect with our people, and bring God’s message; Jesus still wants to bless the world with love and forgiveness and mercy, in spite of whatever is happening in the world,” said Father Obi, who serves both Catholic parishes in Penticton.

“People are afraid and they want peace.”

READ MORE: 40 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., five pandemic-related deaths

With Easter weekend here, many churches are offering different ways for their congregations to participate in service. The Catholic Parishes of Penticton have been live-streaming services with sometimes up to a thousand viewers joining them from their homes.

“We’ve been able to do everything we’ve always done, but are doing it now online,” he said.

For Father Obi, Sunday will mark the first time he has conducted an Easter service without hundreds in the rows in front of him.

Parishioners in both St. Ann’s Parish and St. John Vianney Parish are finding it hard not to celebrate the holiday with their community.

In the Catholic religion, Easter weekend consists of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday, which commemorates the resurrection of Jesus.

“It’s been hard for people, for me too,” Obi said. “This is the first time as a priest I won’t be able to celebrate Easter – this is the greatest time in our Catholic tradition… it is tough.”

Despite this, Obi is optimistic.

“What it has done, it has, in a very deep way, has bonded us together. Because sometimes there are things we take for granted. We see each other every day. But right now because of the difficulty of the day, and the isolation, we’ve been even more spiritually bonded. So as difficult as COVID-19 is, it’s bearing some fruit, (there is) a silver lining.

“In this time of crisis, somehow, it’s bringing about something new. It’s bringing before us new opportunities. It’s bringing before us some kind of internal renewal, in our hearts, and in the family, and in the church as a whole.”

READ MORE: Canadian police to make home visits to enforce mandatory quarantine for travellers

@PentictonNews
editor@pentictonwesternnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Over 600 Pitt Meadows citizens sign petition to protest North Lougheed development

Petition requests more environmental information before development decisions carried out

Pass slow and wide, please

Maple Ridge mom pleads with drivers to show care after daughter falls from spooked pony on 132nd Ave

Mounties collar suspect after shots ring out in Maple Ridge

Weekend incident on 227th Street leads police to Surrey for one arrest and gathering of evidence

‘Just getting to know Maple Ridge’: local resident discovers historical markers

Belle Morse Park was named after the former mayor who also served as a city councillor

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

Thanks for helping The News to continue its mission to provide trusted local news

Kelowna man charged with harming a hamster

The 20-year-old Kelowna man faces several animal cruelty charges

High tech fish transport system set up to ‘whoosh’ salmon past Big Bar landslide

Fish will spend roughly 20 seconds inside the system, moving at roughly 20 metres per second

Trudeau to seek 10 days of paid sick leave for Canadian workers, says talks are ongoing

Paid sick leave is key to keeping COVID-19 spread under control, prime minister says

Snowbirds jets will not be leaving Kamloops, just yet

The Snowbirds have been in Kamloops since May 17 when a plane crashed killing Capt. Jennifer Casey

COVID-19 checkpoints ‘up to them,’ Bonnie Henry says of remote B.C. villages

Support local tourism economy, but only if you’re invited in

Vancouver Island hasn’t seen a new homegrown case of COVID-19 in two weeks

Island’s low and steady transmission rate chalked up to several factors

Eight people arrested in Victoria homeless camp after enforcement order issued

Those living in tents were given until May 20 to move indoors

Most Read