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Coronavirus precautions have one P.E.I. priest planning to hear drive-thru confessions

Fr. Danny Wilson, Parish Priest for St. Anthony’s Parish in Woodstock says he is planning on hearing drive-thru confessions this Saturday. Confessants do not even have to exit their vehicles to participate. 
Eric McCarthy/Journal Pioneer
Fr. Danny Wilson, Parish Priest for St. Anthony’s Parish in Woodstock says he is planning on hearing drive-thru confessions this Saturday. Confessants do not even have to exit their vehicles to participate. - Eric McCarthy


WOODSTOCK, P.E.I. – A parish priest in western P.E.I. will be adhering to the chief public health officer’s guidelines around social distancing on Saturday, while still making the sacrament of confession available to his flock.

Fr. Danny Wilson advised his congregation through social media that he will be hearing confessions through a drive-thru confessional in the back parking lot of St. Anthony’s Church in Woodstock this Saturday from 2 to 4 p.m.

“I will be in my car and there will be a designated space for you to park. You will not need to exit your car,” he says.

Asked what the procedure would be if a carload pulled up wanting to go to Confessions, Fr. Wilson admitted he would like for that to happen.

The others would have to get out of their car and perhaps walk around the parking lot or take a walk through the church, he suggests.

“The church is open to walk around inside or to pray,” he notes. 

“I could (hear confessions) in the church, too, but it’s hard to have that six-foot (distance),” he says. “I thought, well, if people are comfortable in their car, they can drive in, go to confession and drive out.’

“They might just want prayer, and that’s fine, too.”

Pylons will be set up in the church parking lot as a means of ensuring confessants remain at least six feet away from their confessor when drive-thru confessions are held this Saturday in Woodstock. Eric McCarthy/Journal Pioneer
Pylons will be set up in the church parking lot as a means of ensuring confessants remain at least six feet away from their confessor when drive-thru confessions are held this Saturday in Woodstock. Eric McCarthy/Journal Pioneer

To ensure the six-foot separation is maintained, Fr. Wilson is positioning his car in the parking lot, next to two rows of pylons. Those wanting to go to confession or to have a prayer, simply have to drive up in between the two rows of pylons until their car window is even to Fr. Wilson’s window – six feet away.

Parishioner Jean Hagen welcomes the initiative but admits, “I’m having problems wrapping my head around a drive-thru confession. I’ve been to masses where you’re in the car, but never a confession.”

Hagen was part of a 30-car Eucharistic procession Fr. Wilson led last Sunday, for repentance and "for Christ’s healing hand in the fight against the coronavirus."

“What can we do if we had to go to a regular confessional? You have to be six feet apart. Well, the whole congregation would hear you,” she says.


Part of a trend? 

It appears Fr. Wilson isn't alone in this idea: 


Fr. Wilson says people are dealing with a lot of stress and worry because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“If somebody wants to go and bare their soul, that’s a good thing to do,” he says.

“It’s kind of a way to be there for people.”

He still says daily mass alone but admits it will be different saying Sunday mass in an empty church. Instead of a sermon, he says he will likely post a Sunday reflection on social media.

Eucharistic procession to fight coronavirus held

Last Sunday's Eucharistic procession travelled from St. Anthony’s Parish Church in Woodstock to the four other churches in his care. The participants stopped at each church for a short prayer outside before returning to St. Anthony’s for benediction.

“It was a pretty wonderful experience, really,” assessed Fr. Wilson. “People who were with us thought it was pretty awesome.”

“The plan of having Our Eucharistic Lord battle the coronavirus mirrors the actions taken by Pope St. Gregory the great to battle the plague in the sixth century,” Fr. Wilson had posted before Sunday’s procession. “In response to the plague devastating Rome, Gregory led processions and prayers of repentance through the streets of Rome.”

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