By Emily Drooby
In a sign of hope, community and faith, clergy from Saint Helen Church in Howard Beach, Queens are taking to the streets, processing with the Blessed Sacrament.
They’re bringing the Church right to their parishioners’ doorsteps – but from a safe distance.
“The people here miss their church,” said Father Francis Colamaria, pastor at St. Helen’s, “but we also have an elderly population that is not watching online.”
It’s a unique way to give a benediction to the sick, to see their parishioners and to make sure they’re reaching everyone, including those unable to tune into the church’s popular live-streamed Masses.
Fr. Colamaria says the idea came from the past.
“Historically, this has been done during plagues, processions of popes and bishops going through their diocese or their parishes,” he explained. “We wanted to do the same thing.”
They will continue to do this every day starting at 1:30 p.m., taking a different route until they have covered the whole parish.
And St. Helen’s is not alone. Pastors all over the country have been doing this as a way to stay connected with the faithful, including in Brooklyn.
On April 19, the Celebration of the Divine Mercy at Shrine Church of Our Lady of Solace in Brooklyn included the visitation of the Blessed Sacrament through the streets of Coney Island.
They spread an important message to their parishioners.
“They are not alone in their suffering, that is the best message we could communicate through the best medium of the Church which is the Holy Sacrament, the Eucharist,” explained the church’s pastor, Father Shiju Chittattukara. “God is visiting them to give them the healing, to give them the consolation, to give them the peace that they need at this time.”
It’s just another way priests are creatively changing their approach when it comes to spreading the faith during the global pandemic.