Detroit Priest Uses Squirt Gun To Spray Holy Water On Parishioners As They Socially Distance

Monday, May 18th 2020, 1:16 pm
By: CBS News

A priest's unorthodox way of administering holy water to his parishioners who are social distancing has become a sensation online. Photos showing Father Timothy R. Pelc of the St. Ambrose Parish in Detroit spraying holy water with a squirt gun have recently gone viral.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues, the parish posted photos showing how it's navigating events involving holy water, which for Roman Catholics is a way to purify a person or object. However, it was Pelc's plastic gun that made everyone's day. 

"Adapting to the need for social distancing, St. Ambrose continued it's tradition of Blessing of Easter Food Baskets, drive-thru style. Yes, that's Fr. Tim using a squirt gun full of Holy Water!" the caption read. 

Standing a few feet away from vehicles, Pelc was wearing a mask that covered his entire face and included a see-through screen on Easter weekend. He's seen spraying the squirt gun at his parishioners and food baskets. 

He told BuzzFeed News that he wanted to do something cool for the children for Easter – and the water gun idea was approved by a friend who is an emergency room doctor in Detroit. 

"The original idea was to do something for the kids of the parish," he said. "They were about ready to have an Easter unlike any of their past, so I thought, what can we still do that would observe all the protocols of social distancing?"

Underneath the original post, people as far as Austria commented on the photos. The idea also became a hit on Twitter.

Even the parish got in on the action, posting a meme showing an altered movie poster from the 1966 classic "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly."

Pelc and his parish have also tied more than 1,300 ribbons to tree branches in memory of Michiganders who have died from the virus. 

Pelc told BuzzFeed he's still getting used to the attention that has come from the photos. He was glad to wear a mask, however. 

"I'm a little reluctant. If I didn't have a mask on in these photos, I probably wouldn't be as happy," Pelc said. "But I'm perfectly happy being the masked avenger here."

Since the coronavirus outbreak hit the U.S. in March, nearly all churches closed to have people quarantine in order to stop the spread of the virus. As Rome begins to reopen its churches, Catholic dioceses across some states are beginning to release guidelines.