Can't get to confession? The church will find a way
Catholic priests are adapting during the COVID-19 pandemic to hear sins in a parkade
Rev. James Hughes of St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Parish on Main Street in Vancouver carries a chair to the middle of the church's parking area. Dressed in robes, he and two other priests set up two makeshift stations to hear confessions from parishioners
As many churches and public buildings are closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, St. Patrick's is adapting to serve the congregation, particularly leading up to Good Friday and Easter Sunday when Christians commemorate the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
"It was busier than a McDonald's lineup last week" says Hughes as he adjusts a speaker to play hymns in the echoing parkade.
In the Catholic Church, confessions have to be done in person, not over the phone or any form of telecommunications platform.
Enter the drive-thru confession.
"In order to respect the health regulations right now in the province of B.C., we've come up with a drive-thru which allows someone to remain in their vehicle, have their confession heard as they tell the priest their sins and the priest will absolve them and they drive away," explained Hughes.
"It's very clean cut. The two-metre distance is respected."
The service began last week with priests working six to seven hours each day over two days.
Hughes said the lineups have been quite steady.
"We're not only serving our parish and parishioners here at St. Patrick's, but other Catholics from across the Lower Mainland that have heard and are in the area will come by as well."
He believes demand will continue, even past the busy Easter season.
"I would say there's the possibility of doing something at least once a week, to provide that outlet," says Hughes. "
Hughes said the challenges his parishioners and the Church face are a good reminder of their values and beliefs.
"I think people need to be far more than just positive. They need to remain hope-filled, that we're not just returning to life as usual, but that we can learn from this as a great opportunity. "