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Detroit priest ‘blesses’ churchgoers with squirt gun full of holy water

Rev. Tom Pelc of St. Ambrose Parish in Detroit, Mich., blessed churchgoers with a water gun full of holy water.
Rev. Tom Pelc of St. Ambrose Parish in Detroit, Mich., blessed churchgoers with a water gun full of holy water. St. Ambrose Parish/Facebook

It’s not every day you see a priest armed with a squirt gun.

As Easter celebrations approached last month, Detroit priest Rev. Tim Pelc of St. Ambrose Parish was brainstorming how to keep the weekend as “normal” as possible.

Given the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendation for physical distancing and with restrictions in place, Pelc wouldn’t be able to personally bless churchgoers with holy water.

So he decided to fill up small squirt guns with it.

READ MORE: U.S. restaurants using blow-up dolls, mannequins to enforce physical distancing

“You can’t double-dip into the holy water container,” he told Today. “I thought, what could I do that would keep the quarantine restrictions going and give kids the experience of Easter?”

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After a doctor friend gave him the go-ahead that his method was safe, Pelc donned a face mask and gloves and, wielding a lime-green squirt gun, took his place in the parish’s parking lot.

“We didn’t have a lot of notice on it,” he continued. “At noon, the Saturday before Easter, I went out there, and there was a line of cars waiting.”

While photos of the priest, taken by parishioner Larry Peplin, were first shared on the parish’s Facebook page over Easter weekend, they’ve recently gained internet popularity.

“It was a good news story, and people were in the mood for something like that,” Pelc told BuzzFeed News.

The humorous photos provided a much-needed reprieve from the news cycle surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak.

“People wanted to have a bright side to the things that are happening in the world right now,” said Christine Busque, the church’s Facebook page manager. “They saw that, and I think they saw that he cared about his parishioners enough to want to keep his traditions alive but work (within) the CDC guidelines of being safe.”

Ultimately, Pelc is just happy that his idea — and the photos — are making people smile.

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READ MORE: German café asks patrons to wear pool-noodle hats to enforce social distancing

“They all squealed in delight,” he told Today of his Easter activity. “Part of what I do is help make memories for the future.”

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

meaghan.wray@globalnews.ca

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