Parishes offer innovative ways to receive the sacraments

MONORE—As a reminder that God is always near, especially in times of trouble, our parishes are going to great lengths to provide parishioners with spiritual fulfillment.

Father Henry Hoffman, pastor of St. Jude in Monroe and Father Jim Bates, parochial vicar began offering a new way for parishioners to receive the sacrament of reconciliation in these times of social distancing.

“Lent is a penitential time in which we spend several weeks preparing ourselves for the Resurrection of the Lord. An essential element of that preparation is attending confessions,” explained Father Hoffman. Father Hoffman shared that seeing other parishes offer drive-through confessions inspired he and Father Bates to do the same. “In this way, the parishioners can still confess their sins and receive absolution while observing social distancing,” he says.

In a message to the faithful, Father Jim Bates wrote,  “At the designated time, rain or shine, the priests of St. Jude will be seated by the curb outside the church; you may pull your car up to the priest and make your confession from a safe distance while maintaining complete privacy. As with confession in the church, only one penitent and the priest can participate, so you must be in your car alone.”

Father Hoffman and Bates set up two outdoor stations on either side of the church, both of which filled up quickly. “At one point we had several cars in each of the lines, with the driver’s allowing enough space between cars, to provide the necessary privacy for the penitent,” explained Father Hoffman.

The threat of COVID-19 has presented us with many challenges, but these clergy members see an opportunity to continue to make the sacraments available to the faithful. “We need to find creative ways to make the Sacrament of Penance available while still observing social distancing,” says Father Hoffman, recalling the story of Zacchaeus, who had to come up with a creative way to see Jesus (Luke 19:1).

“In the face of this horrible pandemic, I see us as a human family coming together, and I believe that the bonds we forge will continue to hold us together well into the future,” Father Hoffman says.

When asked how one can maintain their spiritual life during this time, Father Hoffman offers,  “I have found that prayer, in particular addressed to Our Lady, is of paramount importance. I especially appreciate the Holy Father’s recent words, ‘Under your protection, we seek refuge, Mother of God. Do not disdain the entreaties of we who are in trial, but deliver us from every danger, O glorious and Blessed Virgin.’”

Father Bates offers these words of encouragement, “The Church is neither idle nor is it silent; while the current pandemic has threatened to separate and drive us apart as a nation and as a community of faith, the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass continues, we are united in prayer, and we are finding ways to offer the sacraments to the faithful while keeping all of us safe.”