VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Despite religious gatherings being suspended, a Vancouver church will hold in-person mass throughout the Christmas season.
Father James Hughes, a pastor at St. Patrick’s Parish, says his church is trying to “make the best use of a situation that is difficult.”
Usually, when you arrive at the church, you’d park and head inside, but St. Patrick’s will be hosting a drive-in mass this year.
It’s the same concept as a drive-in movie theatre, and in this case, parishioners will park facing the outdoor altar and tune in to a radio station broadcasting the mass.
“I actually went out trying and searching, shopping, to find an FM broadcast transmitter — which is almost impossible to find its older technology,” Hughes says.
Hughes says he took inspiration from churches south of the border hosting drive-in masses to adhere to COVID restrictions.
St. Patricks will allow a maximum of 50 vehicles per mass and 18 drive-in services will run between Christmas Even and January 3rd.
As for communion, parishioners will remain in their cars, roll down their windows and put their arms out to receive the holy eucharist from the priest. They’ll need to keep their masks on until it’s time to consume the host.
The church is building off the success of its drive-thru confession series which rolled out last April and has proved popular.
“We had drive-thru confessions the last two Saturdays and were busy for eight hours in totality,” Hughes says.
Hughes adds, for parishioners, there’s no substitute for in-person Christmas mass.
“For Catholics, we feel that receiving the sacraments and particularly the Eucharist — Holy Communion we call it — you need to be present in that way.”
With a lot of talks lately about some local churches breaking COVID-19 rules around gatherings, Hughes says it’s important to remember most are respecting the restrictions and waiting patiently.
“We pray that maybe in 2021 new hopes and signs give us encouragement that one day we can gather in our buildings once again.”