Innovation in the time of pandemic

Jul 02, 2020

When COVID-19 hit, churches could no longer gather together for worship as they traditionally had. Undeterred, we at St. Brendan the Navigator started celebrating Drive-in Mass, a move that has proved very popular with our parishioners.

The Rev. Robert Vaillancourt, Pastor of St. Brendan the Navigator Parish, said, “I have been so moved by the hope and joy it brings to elderly and health-compromised parishioners who feel they can safely attend Mass from their vehicles and wave to their fellow Christians. It gives a sense of community during these times.”

The Drive-in Masses are offered on Sundays; 8:30 a.m. at the Waldo County Y parking lot in Belfast and 11 a.m. at the St. Bernard parking lot in Rockland, where parishioners sing hymns of praise, partake in the Holy Eucharist and honk car horns to give one another the Sign of Peace.

But we haven’t stopped there.

Every Wednesday afternoon from 2 to 6 p.m., The Rev. Vaillancourt, better know as Father Bob, offers drive-up Eucharistic Adoration from his living room window at the St. Bernard rectory. This makes visible the Eucharistic Christ for people to drive up, remain in their cars and spend some quiet time with the Lord. Many show up during this time of intense intimacy with their Lord.

He also sets out two chairs to hear confession, sitting very visible to the side, vested and ready to hear the Sacrament of Penance (Confession). We have been amazed how many people of all ages show up to celebrate God's Mercy in their lives, many of them having not been to Confession in years. We believe God is gently using this pandemic to awaken the hearts of those in search for truth and meaning in their lives. God is so good!

We also livestream Masses on the church’s Facebook page. We have been able to find creative, new and inspiring ways to celebrate our liturgies and stay connected while following all safety protocols based on the guidance and recommendations of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, the CDC and state government officials.

The staff has taken the safety of opening up our churches very seriously and has spent numerous hours and some sleepless nights to make sure we are reopening prudently. We have also had some amazing parishioners step up to serve above and beyond, helping us to livestream our Masses, taking on extra duties to help us during this time. We could not have done this without them.

St. Brendan the Navigator Parish encompasses three main churches: St. Bernard in Rockland, Our Lady of Good Hope in Camden and St. Francis of Assisi in Belfast. The parish also serves the Maine State Prison community as well as the islands of Islesboro, North Haven and Vinalhaven.

Christine Fee, pastoral life coordinator

St. Brendan the Navigator Parish

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