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

Subsea fibre optics running from Prince Rupert to Haida Gwaii and and then south to Vancouver will improve high-speed internet connection options for Coastal Communities, CityWest said on Oct. 13.
Subsea fibre optics running from north of Prince Rupert to Haida Gwaii and and then south to Vancouver will improve high-speed internet connection options for Coastal communities, CityWest said on Oct. 13. (Black Press Media)
CityWest to refresh subsea fibre optics project

Fibre optics project to run cable from north of Prince Rupert to Haida Gwaii then south to Vancouver

Federal NDP looks to criminalize domestic emotional abuse with new law

MP Randall Garrison introduces private member’s bill

FILE - Nathan Cullen speaks to media in Smithers, B.C., Friday, February 28, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
More calls come in for Cullen’s removal as NDP candidate

Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs demand Cullen’s removal. Ellis says, There’s no place in B.C. for racism

Kelly Lynn Whitney has been acclaimed as the successful candidate on Oct. 16, in the Village of Port Clements by Election. Seen in photos Kelly Whitney-Gould is pictured putting finishing touches on “Ms. Gnomer’s Home 4 Wayward Folk.” (Kelly Whitney-Gould/Submitted photo)
Kelly Lynn Whitney acclaimed in By Election

Village of Port Clements By Election success

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry presents modelling of COVID-19 spread in B.C., March 25, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. sets another COVID-19 record with 203 new cases

up to 1,766 active cases in B.C., two more deaths

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
British Columbia man dies during ski trip near glacier west of Calgary

Kananaskis Public Safety and Alpine Helicopters responded around 2:30 p.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, Oct. 19, 2020, following a week-long break for the House of Commons. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
One crisis after another for Trudeau since last federal election one year ago

It has been a year of unprecedented calamity and crisis

Rio Tinto Alcan’s aluminum smelter at Kitimat competes against producers in the Middle East and Russia that have no carbon tax. (Rio Tinto)
B.C. carbon tax highest in Canada, export industries unprotected

B.C. NDP, B.C. Liberals say they’re looking at exemptions

(Pixabay)
Vancouver teacher suspended after swearing, touching students and complimenting underwear

McCabe touched students, including rubbing their backs and necks, touching their hair and hugging them

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A glimpse of some of the 480 (approx) cars written off as a result of the acid spills along the Trail highway in 2018. Photo: Trail Times
2 years after huge highway acid spill, Kootenay Ford dealer’s frustration grows with ICBC

Trail AM Ford owner Dan Ashman says he just wants fair compensation from ICBC

Mail-in ballot from Elections BC (Katya Slepian/Black Press Media)
At least 26% of eligible voters have already cast their ballot, Elections BC says

Voters can cast a ballot until 8 p.m PST on Election Day

Most Read