Immaculate innovation: Irish church provides drive-thru Ash Wednesday service for parishioners

Immaculate innovation: Irish church provides drive-thru Ash Wednesday service for parishioners

CHURCHES UP and down Ireland, and indeed, the world, have had to come up with innovative ways to operate under strict level 5 Covid-19 restrictions.

One place of worship, the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Clonakilty, has masterminded a brilliant way to deliver the all-important Ash Wednesday service – a “drive thru” collection service that has been
immensely popular among parishioners.

Commenting on the idea’s success, parish representative Monsignor Aidan O'Driscoll told RTE:

"The Bishop was saying to us all we got to be creative, we got to be creative in these days because of the changed circumstances. So we racked our brains and decided that this would be a good idea and the response has been very good”.

So keen were those in attendance to get their ash pouches that even before the virtual mass service had ended, parishioners had already begun socially distanced queuing outside the church.

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the seven-week Lenten sacrifice. (Picture: Getty Images)

One attendee, Josephine O’Sullivan, applauded the idea:

"I've a daughter working from home, my husband is not too good, so I can take it up to them now, at least."

To boost capacity and enable more room for social distancing measures, Centra store opposite the church also took delivery of envelopes for their customers.

Parishioners looked pleased with the service that must score top marks for safety and efficiency.

RTE reporter Jennie O'Sullivan tweeted a video of those queuing which said:

“Good humoured parishioners queued to collect their special envelopes with the ashes. Mons. Aidan O’Driscoll says up to 900 individual packages were made up from the ashes of palms from Palm Sunday.”

Another couple tweeted a photo looking chuffed with their takeaway ash pouch.

Centra store owner Ray Keane said he was delighted to do his bit to help as Monsignor O'Driscoll gave him a consignment of a hundred envelopes to be given to customers.

"Funny, there has been a pile of people in and out already and coming back, so the place will be fairly busy now for the rest of the day coming through."

Orla Scully, who came by car to collect the ashes for her family, said you could feel "a little buzz" of excitement around the place as others came to do the same.

"I will be going home now to my three children, my husband and granddad - we are all at home, and I will be blessing them when I go home. It's an important beginning to Lent and it is an exciting one this year!"

Clonakilty parish isn't the only one getting creative with their Ash Wednesday traditions-- a priest in County Donegal made headlines earlier this week when he announce a 'takeaway service' of blessed ashes would be provided for parishioners.