As the world suffers from the COVID-19 pandemic, Catholics across the globe are disheartened by the inability to regularly receive the Sacraments, especially during the Lenten season. Thankfully, priests throughout the world are jumping into action to overcome the obstacles posed by lockdowns and social distancing. Christendom’s alumni priests are finding creative ways to minister to the faithful in their parishes during these trying times, helping draw them closer to Christ as a result.
Alumnus Fr. Tom Vander Woude (’88), the pastor of Holy Trinity Church in Gainesville, Virginia, is one example. He recently set up a “drive-through confessional,” where the faithful can receive the sacrament of penance while maintaining social distancing guidelines. In addition, his parish is live-streaming daily Masses and the Divine Mercy Chaplet every day at 3:00 pm.
Alumnus Fr. Bjorn Lundberg (’97), the pastor of Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church in Winchester, Virginia, has quickly responded to the needs of his parishioners as well.
“Your home now needs to become your church,” Father Bjorn Lundberg told Local DVM in a recent article. “We want to help people because they are asking ‘how do you do that?’. So, through the different ways we communicate, online, email, any kind of mailing we are going to put out, we want to connect to people.”
With this in mind, Fr. Lundberg has urged his parish to be united in prayer. To keep his parishioners connected to the Faith, Fr. Lundberg is live-streaming Mass every day. Stations of the Cross will be live-streamed on Fridays, and the parish will live stream three Sunday Masses, including a Spanish Mass, and a Mass celebrated in the Extraordinary Form.
In addition, his parish has set up a drive-through confession line, and Fr. Lundberg also devised a creative way for parishioners to take part in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Displaying the exposed Eucharist from the rectory window, parishioners are able to park in view of the monstrance and spend time in prayer.
Fr. Shaun Whittington (’01), pastor of St. Nicholas Parish in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, decided to celebrate a “parking lot Mass” for his parishioners. A member of the parish volunteered his low-power FM transmitter so worshipers could tune into the Mass via their car radios, and many others quickly volunteered to serve as Eucharistic Ministers and parking lot attendants. This creative solution allowed faithful to maintain social distancing guidelines while still being physically present at the Mass and able to receive the Eucharist.
“Everybody just stepped up and said, ‘OK, let’s figure out how to make it work,’” Father Whittington told The Criterion in a recent article. “It was awesome to have Mass knowing that my parishioners who were there were practicing good hygiene, staying separated from each other and in the warmth and comfort of their own cars, knowing that they were going to be safe from the elements and potentially safe from the virus.”
These alumni are just a few examples of priests throughout the world who are going above and beyond to ensure the faithful are connected to the sacraments and are spiritually nourished during this difficult time.
Please join the Christendom community in daily prayer for our priests, healing of the sick, and an end to the Coronavirus pandemic.