Around Holy Week in Berkeley Heights, despite the coronavirus lockdown, the clergy of Little Flower took to neighborhood streets to bless hundreds of families in their front yards.
The scenes were inspiring despite the oddness of physical distancing. In one photograph, a girl is standing on the edge of her front lawn holding a little dog with her mother next to her, while her younger brother rides a bike nearby and several neighbors have gathered around to watch. On the other side of the street, Rev. Andrew Prachar gives them a blessing.
“They were hungry for us to be with them,” Fr. Andrew said, the pastor of Little Flower. “They appreciated our efforts.”
Fr. Andrew, Rev. Matthew Dooley, and Deacon Michael Montemurro divided the visits. They fielded requests through their email mailing list and plotted the homes on Google Maps.
“People are looking for faith connections right now,” Fr. Andrew said. “It’s just a way to be present whether they are Catholic or not. It’s a chance to be creative. I think there is so much potential right now to do things that show people we care.”
Fr. Andrew has also been making special trips to bless first communicants outside their homes.
He noted that he and his parish staff also encountered families who had not signed up for visits or who are not churchgoers, but who warmly welcomed the call.
“It’s a chance for next-door neighbors and parishioners to be present,” Fr. Andrew added.
He said now is an important time to interact with parishioners and let them know that they are loved.
“Are we willing to be creative and flexible?” he asked. “Do we really care? What better time to be a field hospital than right now. To do whatever we have to do to let people know they are loved and cared about. This is what we do. We’re the church.”