Older parishioners of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Fort Wayne were extended a special invitation on Sunday, Sept. 27 – to enjoy a drive-by blessing in the parish parking lot.
They drove up in their cars to receive a blessing from Father David Voors, Father Stephen Felicichia or Deacon Jim Kitchens. This also allowed older parishioners and others who have not yet returned to Mass to once again feel connected to the parish during these challenging times.
While people waited in their cars, the parish staff stood outside with signs encouraging those driving by to participate as well. With masks on and socially distanced, the staff was able to talk with those who accepted the invitation and share in their joys and struggles they are experiencing during the pandemic. “Many people said they appreciated the blessing so much,” said staff member Raeann Mullen. It’s been too long since they have been able to come to St. Elizabeth church. They really miss coming to Mass and look forward to the day they can come back.”
Many parishioners also shared how appreciative they are for the parish’s livestreamed Masses. It helps them feel connected, they said, especially when the celebrating priest reaches out to welcome those who are participating virtually.
It was estimated that around 100 cars — and even one bike group — came during the 1-2:30 p.m. time frame. People were joyful, and some brought to tears, over finally being able to connect with their priests and deacon. Many hadn’t yet met Father Felicichia, who was assigned to the parish in June.
In preparation for the event, the staff and volunteers called parishioners age 75 and older to invite them to the blessing. Even those who were unable to attend were so grateful to have a friendly voice to talk to from the parish, the callers reported. Those parishioners are staying away for safety reasons, but are filled with a great longing to come back to the parish again in person, and especially to receive the sacraments.
Other opportunities St. Elizabeth Ann Seton provides for those staying home have included livestreamed eucharistic exposition, with the praying of the rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet. The parish has also hosted nights of Facebook Live Q-and-A. These and other videos are posted to YouTube so all are able to watch at their convenience.
The drive-by blessing was a great success in getting people out of the house, providing prayers for all in need and connecting people to each other. The parish hopes to continue to find ways to reach out to parishioners and the community. Weather cooperating, another drive-by blessing is planned for the future.
Trout is the Evangelization and Communications coordinator at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, Fort Wayne.
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