Wagga priest’s innovation is transparent

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Hardware store hack shows love for the Eucharist

A Wagga parish priest has been creatively preparing for the day he can welcome his flock back to church, including making his own portable shield for the safe distribution of Holy Communion. 

Fr Thomas Casanova CCS, of West Wagga Catholic Parish, said that the sorrow of many of the faithful who cannot receive the Eucharist due to social distancing restrictions and social isolation requirements, is very real. And many priests continue to be distressed about the separations as well. 

I saw a comment on social media from a priest saying, Let us have our sorrow, don’t tell us we shouldn’t be sad about this”, and he is right,” Fr Casanova said.

I have seen people in tears about the church closures. Just two days ago an elderly lady was crying to me about missing the Mass and Holy Communion, he added. “They love being to see the live-streamed Masses and hear the homily clearly, but it’s not [an experience of] Mass. 

First and foremost we are fed by the Holy Eucharist as the source and summit of our Christian life and so this is a tragedy. Spiritual communion is not a replacement but a longing for real, physical, Holy Communion”. 

After reading reports about the difficulties envisioned at Holy Communion time when churches are re-opened for Masses, the perspicacious priest came up with a clever $31 hardware store hack.

Using a packet of clear PVC sheets, cable ties, and a height-adjustable garment rack, Father says he can hand a person the Eucharist underneath the shield thereby keeping everyone safe from possible virus transmission.

Someone said it will take three months to get a shield in production and I said ‘Rubbish, just go to Bunnings’,” he said. His invention proved popular on Facebook with people clearly impressed by his ingenuity and some also keen to copy the idea. 

I think the reason some people showed delight in that is not just over the shield itself, but because they haven’t heard us [clergy] saying much about we want the sacraments back as much as you do and are hungry to get this happening as fast as we can,” Fr Casanova said. 

It’
s not his only creative idea. Popular with his parishioners is a Eucharist ‘compass’ with a spiritual communion prayer and needle which can be pointed in the direction of the nearest tabernacle.  Before Easter he posted depictions of the Station of the Cross along a park fence so people could pray while out doing their outdoor exercise for the day.

On Good Friday and Holy Saturday he did a drive-by blessing of homes with a relic of the True Cross and the Apostles. Palm Sunday saw him deliver sanitised and blessed palms to dozens of homes and Easter Sunday, blessed bottles of Easter Water.

Everything I’m doing is with a view to the sacraments being restored and things that can put people in touch with the sacraments and sacramentals,” Father Casanova said. 

“Our bishop said to be as creative as possible in bringing the grace of Christ to people and I take that as a signal from him to say let’s do whatever we can to reach people.  

“B
ut it needs to be sacramental, not virtual. Virtual is ok, but it’s not enough. 

Related articles:

Pope warns of danger in online Masses
Archbishop presses for church closures to be reversed
Churches cast light despite locked doors