Ames parish offers drive-thru confessions as coronavirus prevention efforts continue

By Dan Russo

Witness Editor

AMES — The coronavirus pandemic has led to a new spiritual innovation similar to the concept of a drive-thru car wash. Instead of cleaning vehicles, however, clergy around the world, including in the Archdiocese of Dubuque, are adapting the idea to help people cleanse their souls.

Father Kyle Digmann, pastor of St. Thomas Aquinas Church and Catholic Student Center in Ames, is among priests now offering the sacrament of reconciliation to people who drive up to him. The participants maintain the recommended social distance while interacting with the pastor. The first week or so, it took everyone a while to figure things out, but it’s now going smoothly, according to Father Digmann.

“Almost everyone that drives up has a smile on their face, partly due to the fact that drive-thru confession is a unique experience but also because they are grateful to still have the sacrament of God’s mercy,” he explained in an email to The Witness.

“What has been most impressive to me has been the continued desire for this sacrament. There was a bit of a hitch on Saturday (March 28) when it started to rain, but we just moved underneath the entrance overhang.”

Father Kyle Digmann offers the sacrament of reconciliation in a drive thru format at St. Thomas Aquinas Church and Catholic Student Center in Ames March 28 (contributed photo)

The Ames parish has also been adapting in other ways, such as providing Mass and other videos through its website and engaging in other forms of outreach.

“I have been impressed by how many people tune in to the Mass online,” reflected Father Digmann. “There is such an appreciation of their own parish. I am also amazed by people’s desire for the Eucharist. At every Mass during Communion we pray the prayer for a Spiritual Communion.  Not having people physically at Mass has deepened my understanding of the priest as intercessor for his people.  All are offered up in the intention of the Mass and present in the Eucharist even if they are not physically present.”

One activity that the pastor believes has had a great impact is the effort to make phone calls.

“This personal contact is huge!” said Father Digmann. “I have been wanting to reach out to all of the parishioners since I got here two years ago, but just have not had time. Now it is a priority of mine, and I love getting to talk to each of them and get to know them better.”

 

To find out more about what is happening at St. Thomas Aquinas Parish, visit https://staparish.net/.