PHOTOS: Penticton priest offers 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

Petition seeks to clean up Okanagan forests ‘carpeted’ with shotgun shells

Penticton man says making shot-gun shells refundable would create cleaner forests

Eco-friendly bus service seeks to add Kelowna to Osoyoos route

Bus would stop in Kelowna, West Kelowna, Peachland, Summerland, Penticton, Kaledan, Oliver, Osoyoos

Kelowna trial date set for Penticton quadruple-homicide

John Brittain’s jury trial will commence on Oct 5, 2020 in Kelowna

Small business owner makes big donation to Penticton Food Bank

Across the country, more people are becoming reliant on food bank’s amid COVID-19

COLUMN: The gentle art of the disagreement

Differing opinions can work as a strength

Video: Okanagan mayors encourage water conservation this summer

Water conservation this summer could be more important than ever, experts say

Parking lot patios a go in Vernon

Council votes in favour of allowing businesses to expand commercial space into on-street parking spots

Shuswap cabin owner disputes request to stay home in Alberta

Alberta resident redrafts response to CSRD request to stay home

Kelowna’s main drag will be closed to vehicles this summer

Kelowna’s Bernard Avenue will be a pedestrian-only roadway from June 29 through the Labour Day long weekend

Vernon gym knocked out by COVID-19

9Round Fitness in Vernon Square Mall owners announce permanent closure of facility

Snapshot: Distanced dancing in Salmon Arm

Friends use picnic shelter at Blackburn Park for safe practice

Kelowna’s Homebase Baseball Tournament cancelled

A live auction will still take place to raise funds for Joeanna’s House

Kelowna General Hospital Foundation launches fundraising initiative to support local health care

The initiative also highlights workers at Kelowna General Hospital

Kelowna man charged with harming a hamster

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

Most Read