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Detroit priest goes viral for blessing churchgoers with water gun

Father Tim Pelc had a creative solution for blessing churchgoers at a socially distant service.
/ Source: TODAY

Viral photos of a priest using a squirt gun filled with holy water to bless churchgoers during a socially distant service are taking on a life of their own on the Internet.

Five weeks ago, during Holy Week, Father Tim Pelc said he wanted to find a safe way during the coronavirus pandemic to continue the tradition of blessing Easter baskets.

"You can't double dip into the holy water container," Pelc told TODAY. "I thought, what could I do that would keep the quarantine restrictions going and give kids the experience of Easter?"

priest uses squirt gun
Churchgoers lined up in their cars to have their Easter baskets blessed with holy water from Father Tim Pelc's squirt gun.Larry Peplin

That's when he had the idea to use a squirt gun. After consulting with a doctor friend to ensure his idea was safe and followed social distancing guidelines, Pelc put on extra gear, including a face mask, shield and gloves, and waited in the parking lot for churchgoers to drive by for a spritz of holy water the day before Easter.

"We didn't have a lot of notice on it. At noon, the Saturday before Easter, I went out there and there was a line of cars waiting," he said.

priest uses squirt gun
Pelc said he wanted to find a way to make sure children had fun memories of Easter during the coronavirus shutdowns.

While the photos received some attention when they were posted on the St. Ambrose Parish Facebook page five weeks ago, they've gone viral on social media over the past few days.

Father Tim's photo has inspired Photoshop battles on Reddit and has been given the meme treatment.

Father Tim said he's surprised his photos are gaining a second wave of notoriety, but he's happy they're making people smile and helped the kids in his community have a memorable Easter during a global pandemic.

"They all squealed in delight," he said. "Part of what I do is help make memories for the future."