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Priest begins offering drive-thru confession amid coronavirus pandemic

A priest at a Catholic church in Maryland started taking confessions from people in their cars in the church parking lot during the coronavirus outbreak.
Father Scott Holmer, a Catholic priest at a parish in Maryland, has started hearing confessions through penitents' driver's-side windows in his church's parking lot.
Father Scott Holmer, a Catholic priest at a parish in Maryland, has started hearing confessions through penitents' driver's-side windows in his church's parking lot.Andrew Biraj/ Catholic Standard newspaper / adw.org

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/ Source: TODAY
By Scott Stump

Parishioners in a Maryland town can now drop their sins off at the drive-thru.

A pastor at St. Edward the Confessor, a Catholic church in Bowie, has started hearing confessions in the church parking lot through penitents' driver's-side windows in an effort to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

"This is where we priests have to be creative about how to bring Christ to people when we can't do that in our church buildings," Father Scott Holmer told Catholic Standard. "We need to bring Christ to people now, to bring him to others in a safe way that won't increase infection."

Father Holmer says that only rain will stop him from setting up to hear confessions in the church parking lot. Andrew Biraj/ Catholic Standard newspaper / adw.org

Holmer was worried about the potential coronavirus implications of people touching kneelers, doorknobs and chairs in the confessional, so he came up with the idea of having confession outside.

He holds confessions for 45 minutes to an hour six days a week and five hours a day on Sundays.

A seminarian directs traffic as Holmer hears confessions one at a time. If there is more than one person in the car, the others get out and wait for their turn while the person in the driver's seat gives his or her confession, according to Catholic Standard.

Holmer even wears a blindfold if a penitent wishes to remain anonymous while giving a confession. The only factor that can stop the confessions is rain.

"We're flying by the seat of our pants here, just trying to figure out how to do this," Holmer said.

Catholics are currently in the holy season of Lent, leading up to Easter on April 12. Holmer has also been going out to bless homes in Bowie from outside each day.

"God is increasing our longing for the sacraments and the ability to share them in a radically new way," he said. "In their absence, (we are) realizing how much we desire them."