Charlotte Catholic church offers drive-up Mass, communion amid coronavirus outbreak

Charlotte Catholic church offers drive-up Mass, communion amid coronavirus outbreak
Drive-up Catholic mass (Source: Spectrum News)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Many churches have reverted to livestreaming its services to stop the spread of COVID-19

But a Catholic parish in Charlotte took preventive steps to ensure they could still offer communion.

From a window at Charlotte’s Saint Ann Catholic Church, Father Timothy Reid delivers a message of hope.

"God has not abandoned us,” Father Reid said. “We need to have charity, hope around this time and know this is going to pass."

Keith and Joyce Stirling were among the parishioners watching the livestream of Sunday's mass from their car.

The Catholic Diocese of Charlotte canceled masses and gatherings of more than 10 people to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

"Of course, I would rather have it in the church, in front of the altar, but if this is the best we can get right now, I think it would suffice,” Keith Stirling said.​​

The St. Ann pastor put safety measures in place to offer communion in the parking lot.

"Our goal was to provide spiritual consolation and nourishment to our people, to do so in a way that kept them safe,” Father Reid said.

Parishioners were ushered to a communion station car by car.

“We wanted to maintain proper social distancing between people,” Father Reid said. “If they were coming as a family, we kept those families together. We got them to receive Holy Communion and got them back to their cars."

Seminarians and priests also wore surgical masks when they approached people.

It was a sight that shocked parishioner Vicky Ayala.

“When I saw the priests and seminarians come out with masks, I thought ‘this is real, this is not a nightmare,’” Ayala said. ​

Overall, Ayala said she is glad the church was cautious, and using hand sanitizer between each group.

The church used precautions to allow her and others to partake in communion.

“At this time is not mandatory but I feel the necessity and urgency because God is the only one that gives me strength for me to continue with my family,” Ayala said.

For Keith Stirling, he also felt better fully participating in mass.

“In front of the TV, I wouldn't have had the Eucharist and that's the most important part of the mass,” he said.

Father Reid said he told people over the age of 65 or vulnerable groups to do spiritual communion instead.

Right now, Saint Ann is doing in-person communion on Saturdays and Sundays.

However, that is subject to change if there are additional restrictions.

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