CHARLOTTE, N.C. — In addition to providing a livestream of their mass, a Catholic parish in Charlotte took additional measures to offer communion in their parking lot.
Currently, churches in North Carolina are not providing services or large gatherings at their places of worship to prevent the spread of coronavirus in the community.
Catholic Diocese of Charlotte Bishop Peter Jugis announced last week all church gatherings must be canceled or limited to no more than 10 people.
On Sunday, St. Ann Catholic Church Pastor Timothy Reid held mass inside the church without an audience in the same room. Parishioners watched the livestream of the mass from their cars in the parish’s parking lot.
"Our goal was to provide spiritual consolation and nourishment to our people, to do so in a way that kept them safe, so we were following the protocols given to us by the diocese of Charlotte and our bishop, as well as all the CDC guidelines,” Reid said.
At the time of the communion, priests and seminarists met parishioners in the parking lot.
Church staff ushered people to the communion station car by car.
“We wanted to maintain proper social distancing between people. 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,” Reid said.
The priests and seminarists wore masks throughout the rite. They also used hand sanitizer or washed their hands between each group.
“It’s difficult and it’s strange and a bit strange but we are living in strange time right now. An extraordinary time that calls for extraordinary measures,” Reid said.
St. Ann Catholic Church Parishioner Keith Stirling was glad the parish provided communion.
"You can watch it on TV, that's fine but being here, I watched it on my phone. But at home, in front of the TV, I wouldn't have had the Eucharist and that's the most important part of the mass,” Stirling said.
Even though Bishop Jugis has lifted the Sunday Mass obligation and encouraged parishioners to make spiritual communion, some like Vicky Ayala feel comfort in receiving communion in person.
“At this time it 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.
Pastor Reid asked people over 65 or vulnerable groups to make spiritual communion.
Communion is being offered on Saturday and Sundays. However, that could change if additional restrictions are put in place.