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)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)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)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)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)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)“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)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

(Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Murder charge laid in February 2020 stabbing death of Smithers man

Michael Egenolf is charged with the second-degree murder of Brodie Cumiskey

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. seniors aged 90+ can start to sign up for vaccination on March 8

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

The village is hoping for a start date in early April with completion as soon as possible. (Granisle Village website photo/Houston Today)
Granisle’s curling rink to receive a facelift

Receives a $362,148 provincial grant

A huge milestone for Granisle to reach 50 years, said Mayor. (Village of Granisle photo/Lakes District News)
Granisle’s 50 years anniversary celebration postponed

The celebrations are now set to be held in 2022

Topley is part of the 10 projects funded in the north. (Laura Blackwell photo/Houston Today)
Topley to receive economic funding

Part of province’s $20.7 million Climate Adaptation Program

A vial of Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a family doctor office, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021 in Paris. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP -Christophe Ena
Trudeau ‘optimistic’ that timeline for rollout of COVID vaccines can be accelerated

Canada set to receive more than 6M COVID-19 vaccine dose than initially expected, by end of March

Beginning late Tuesday, anti-pipeline protesters blocked the intersection of Hastings Street and Clark Drive in Vancouver. (Instagram/Braidedwarriors)
Demonstrators block key access to Vancouver port over jail for pipeline protester

They group is protesting a 90-day jail sentence handed to a fellow anti-pipeline protester

Two Vancouver police officers were struck by a car when the driver learned he was being arrested for allegedly using a fraudulent credit card to pay for food. (Vancouver Police Department)
Driver being arrested for alleged food order fraud rams Vancouver police with car

Two officers are in stable condition, suffering with soft tissue injuries following the incident

A discarded blue surgical mask is shown hanging in a bush in Montreal, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
B.C. RMT suspended for not wearing a mask after confirmed by undercover clients

College of Massage Therapists has 5 open files, said suspension necessary to protect public

A boat caught fire in Ladysmith Harbour on Saturday morning. (Photo submitted)
Missing woman’s remains recovered after Vancouver Island boat fire

Remains of a 60-year-old woman recovered after Feb. 27 boat fire took her life

This poster, spreading misinformation regarding COVID-19 restrictions, has been popping up in communities across Vancouver Island.
Poster popping up on Vancouver Island falsely claims COVID restrictions are over

Unattributed poster claims COVID restrictions ended March 1; Island Health responds

Most Read