The Official Newspaper of the Diocese of Little Rock

Make a meaningful confession for Lent — in your car

Priests are finding unique ways to minister to faithful during COVID-19 isolation

Published: March 27, 2020   
Aprille Hanson
Father Patrick Friend demonstrates a drive-through confession in the parking lot of Catholic High School in Little Rock, as he plans to offer regularly. It’s one way priests are creatively reaching out to the faithful.

Father Patrick Friend sat under a tent in the rain in the Catholic High School Little Rock parking lot March 18, waiting to absolve people of their sins. It’s hardly a drive-up window, but a similar concept with a drive-through confession. He invited the faithful to attend reconciliation by driving up to the tent, cracking their windows to confess and receive absolution.

While face-to-face confessions are suspended due to the threat of COVID-19, Father Friend, a chaplain and teacher at CHS, got creative.

“Somebody showed me something as a joke, ‘What if we did it like this?’ I was like, ‘What if we did it like this, why not?’” he said of drive-through confessions.

He plans to offer it two or three times a week, pointing to the CHS Facebook and Instagram (@rocketalumni) pages to keep up with the times he’ll offer reconciliation as well as celebrating Mass.

In order to provide anonymity if a person desires a private confession, he’ll keep his head down, diverting his eyes. Of course, “if somebody is like ‘Hey father Patrick,’ I’m not going to be weird about it.’”

While not every parish could offer that, he encouraged the faithful to still call their priests if they desire confession, which can be done behind a screen.

He said he’s in a unique position to find other ways to minister because he doesn’t have a parish, though still teaching his classes at CHS online. Many priests are staying in contact via group messages, bouncing ideas off each other on how to minister to the faithful while being physically removed.

“I think the people would be inspired to know the missionary heart of their priests. A lot of guys are still trying to be creative and reach out to the people,” Father Friend said. 

Despite the distance, priests still have to find ways to minister.

“It’s still Lent. Just because we have this crazy, unprecedented thing of the coronavirus doesn’t change that Jesus is Lord and we’re preparing for Easter,” he said.

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