TRUMBULL—Two weeks ago, he took to the skies to bless the Diocese of Bridgeport for protection against the Coronavirus from a plane hundreds of feet above Fairfield County. And yesterday, in the spirit of Palm Sunday, Father Brian Gannon of St. Theresa Church once again used an innovative way to reach the faithful who hungered for the Lord at a time when churches remain closed. Driving through the streets of Trumbull in a bright red Jeep Wrangler, he stood through the sunroof, holding high the Blessed Sacrament in a monstrance and offering prayers for his parish community.
Accompanied by a small procession of cars driven by members from the Sons of St. Joseph, St. Theresa’s men’s group, Father Gannon sat “with Our Lord in the back seat” as parishioner T.J. Angiolillo followed a pre-planned route, acknowledging the honor of carrying the Blessed Sacrament on this holy day.
“It’s awesome,” said Angiolillo as a small group gathered in the sunshine outside the church around 12:30 pm. “Palm Sunday is so important to us, and as Catholics, Jesus is Number One. I just want to do my part.”
And the fact that his Jeep was bright red—the liturgical color for Palm Sunday—was not lost on anyone. “It’s perfect!” Angiolillo laughed.
The procession traversed the neighborhoods around St. Theresa, including parts of Main Street, Madison Avenue, Edison Road, White Plains Road, and Daniels Farm Road, with Gregorian chants streaming from the Jeep as Father Gannon prayed the “Our Father” and “Hail Mary” to bless his parishioners.
“We may not be able to come to Jesus in the Holy Eucharist this Palm Sunday, but Jesus Christ will come to you, or close by, with a very potent blessing and many graces,” said Father Gannon. “He is with us always.”
Along the procession, many residents were waiting patiently for the Lord to come, he said. They watched from sidewalks and front lawns, pausing, kneeling, and crossing themselves out of reverence. Sandy Miller, a parishioner from St. Theresa, stood with her family on Edison Road, holding palm branches purchased from a local florist. As the red Jeep approached them, Miller said they waved the palms and were immediately grateful for the prayers.
“It was a moment that I felt thankful to have such a blessing in a scary time,” said Miller, adding that she planned to hang the blessed palms on her front door. “My son said it made him happy to see. Despite not being able to celebrate in church, we were still able to celebrate.”
Though he could not pass by every home in the parish, Father Gannon said that the blessing of Jesus Christ from the monstrance goes far and wide.
The inspiration for this drive came from several priests in Minnesota who recently led a similar procession in their parishes, which like those in the Diocese of Bridgeport, have suspended Masses amid the threat of the Coronavirus.
“We can’t go to Mass,” said Angiolillo, “but the Holy Spirit makes it all work out,” an especially poignant message of hope as Holy Week begins.
By Emily Clark