Social distancing has brought about huge challenges all over the globe. But it has also brought out some people’s creativity.
In order to keep up with some of our most important traditions, like birthdays and other celebrations, many have turned to social distancing car parades, visiting their loved ones through windows, and other creative workarounds. However, one priest came up with the ultimate solution for blessing parishioners with holy water.
During Holy Week, Father Tim Pelc, a Roman Catholic priest in the Detroit area, was captured in photos that have since gone viral.
In them, he’s pictured shooting churchgoers with a squirt gun containing holy water. Certainly, no one has ever been blessed quite like this before. Father Pelc told Today about how he came up with the fun idea, saying he wanted to be able to bless everyone’s Easter baskets and make sure it was a memorable day while still abiding by social distancing guidelines.
“You can’t double-dip into the holy water container,” Father Pelc said. “I thought, what could I do that would keep the quarantine restrictions going and give kids the experience of Easter?”
Father Pelc is certainly committed to his church and the faithful parishioners who attend. So instead of deciding that no one would get blessed with holy water, he got creative and came up with a way to ensure that everyone would still get their Easter blessings — by using a squirt gun. Obviously, it was a huge hit.
Father Pelc said he wanted to make sure that children had nice memories of the Easter they spent socially distancing. So he blessed every Easter basket with holy water. He didn’t know what the response would be, but cars lined up filled with excited families waiting for their Easter blessings.
Images of him shooting water into the baskets in cars were captured and shared on social media during Holy Week by the St. Ambrose Church in Grosse Pointe Park, Michigan. Those images were shared weeks ago, but they recently gained traction. The images even inspired a Reddit Photoshop battle, along with some viral memes.
“It’s an internet law: once a post or photo about you goes viral, you must end up in a meme. Now it’s happened to Fr. Tim, who wowed the world with his unique holy water squirt gun, blessing food on Holy Saturday. Now he stars in some pretty clever memes, found on Reddit and Imgur. Check it out!” the church posted on its Facebook page.
“At noon, the Saturday before Easter, I went out there and there was a line of cars waiting,” Father Pelc said. While it’s definitely an off-the-beaten path way to bless churchgoers, it seems like everyone was excited about the idea. The priest’s only real concern was keeping people safe, which he was able to do. He says he consulted a doctor friend to ensure his idea was safe, and he followed social distancing guidelines.
Father Pelc put on extra gear, including a face mask, shield, and gloves, just to be safe. He then waited in the parking lot for churchgoers to drive by and get spritzed. It was clever and safe, and the water gun idea felt very geared toward kids who might be feeling a bit bummed out about not getting to do their typical celebrations.
While safety was his top concern, the priest also joked to BuzzFeed News about what the Vatican might say when they got wind of his clever hack. “I haven’t heard anything yet,” he said. We’re guessing there’s no harsh critique coming, though.
There has been a varied response across the country to how people have responded to social distancing guidelines. But this church has obviously taken the pandemic very seriously in order to keep its community safe. It’s certainly nice to see, given that people will take cues from their local community leaders. But by finding ways to still connect with churchgoers, Father Pelc went above and beyond.
The parishioners even tied blue ribbons on trees at the church for each person who has died of the virus in the state of Michigan. That number is nearing 5,000. It’s a beautiful tribute to every person who has been lost and to their families.
Father Pelc is pretty internet famous at this point. He’s been interview by multiple news outlets now that the photos have gone viral. It also seems like his community is so proud of him, given all the support they are showing him online. He told Today he’s surprised about how far and wide the images traveled, but that making memories was his goal in the first place.
“They all squealed in delight,” he said of the kids he saw on Easter. “Part of what I do is help make memories for the future.” This is one Easter blessing the kids are sure to always remember.