BOONTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Thursday was the National Day of Prayer, and with houses of worship still closed, religious leaders are looking for creative ways to connect with the faithful.
In Boonton, New Jersey, one priest has found success with a new way to confess.
Kneeling on concrete and making the sign of the cross outside of a shed is what confession now looks like in the midst of a public health crisis.
“Has this quarantine experience changed what you’ve heard in ways of confession or had you already heard it all?” CBS2’s Jessica Layton asked Father Daniel O’Mullane.
“Ah gee, I think I’d already heard it all before,” he said.
But O’Mullane has never heard it quite like this.
“I supposed that it’s a bit of a leap of faith to do something like this,” he said.
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The priest at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church felt even in a pandemic, the sacrament had to be practiced.
He now sits inside a plastic shed to hear sins, and the committed faithful drive up and wait their turn in their cars. Many wear masks.
“I live a life of faith and not getting to the sacraments has been rough in this crisis,” said Danielle Simone, of Oakland, New Jersey.
“I feel like he’s really being courageous to put himself out here, and he knows that we’re craving it,” said Kathy Ritz, of Rockaway, New Jersey.
Even with churches closed, drive-up confession is bringing back people who hadn’t been to church in a while. O’Mullane lost count of the number who have come through.
“It’s hundreds or maybe into the thousands at this point,” he said.
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As parishioners drive away, Father O’Mullane wants them to feel at peace, something we could all probably use a little more of right now.
“There’s a lot of struggle because they’re in a new set of circumstances, it’s a new situation,” he said. “Whenever you have a crisis, challenge, you’re being presented with an opportunity to grow.”
He hopes many will take that opportunity and come out of the quarantine with a renewed sense of faith.