Drive-thru Mass: Johnston priest to conduct weekend services from church steps


JOHNSTON, R.I. (WPRI) ─ As the state works to prevent further community spread of the coronavirus, a Johnston church has found a new way for his parishioners to worship.

Bishop Thomas Tobin of the Diocese of Providence suspended all public Masses soon after Gov. Gina Raimondo restricted crowd sizes to 10 people or less.

Father Peter Gower of Our Lady of Grace is abiding by Tobin’s decision, however, he’s inviting his parishioners to attend a “drive-thru” Mass this weekend, where they can worship from the comfort of their cars.

Gower said it’s important to meet the spiritual needs of his community now more than ever.

“Faith is so important to them especially in this time, this crisis and this pandemic,” he said. “People want to be close to their church, they want to be close to the eucharist and they don’t have that right now.”

On both Saturday and Sunday, Gower will be leading Mass from the church’s front steps. Parishioners can sit in their cars in the parking lot and listen to the service by radio.

“I’m able to transmit to cars 150 feet away,” Gower explained. “On their FM dial they will tune in to the Mass and I’ll celebrate Mass on the steps of the church, as we do each week, but people are called upon to stay in their cars.”

Gower said parishioners will not receive Holy Communion during the weekend Masses but will receive a spiritual communion with a message of hope for everyone.

“This crisis is going to come to an end,” Gower said. “We’re going to celebrate Easter and we’re going to hug again and social distancing is going to be a thing of the past.”

Mass will be held Saturday at 4 p.m. and Sunday at 10 a.m. Gower said there will be a sign in the church parking lot which will let drivers known which FM frequency to tune into.

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