Detroit priest goes viral after squirting socially-distanced blessings from a water gun

Photos from the unique Holy Week service have recently resurfaced -- in the form of memes

Father Tim Pelc of Detroit's St. Ambrose Perish uses a water gun to bless churchgoers with holy water during Holy Week in April 2020. (Larry Peplin)

DETROIT – A priest from Grosse Pointe Park’s St. Ambrose Parish has gone viral after blessing churchgoers with holy water from a squirt gun during Easter.

Father Tim Pelc told Buzzfeed News that he wanted to find a way to safely continue the tradition of blessing Easter baskets amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

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“The original idea was to do something for the kids of the parish,” Pelc told BuzzFeed News. “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?

Pelc decided the safest way to bless patrons without close contact was by spraying them with a water gun full of holy water. The parish posted photos to their Facebook page showing Pelc wearing a protective mask, shield and gloves as churchgoers lined up in their vehicles the Saturday before Easter.

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Pelc told Buzzfeed News that he first consulted with a doctor friend to ensure his idea was safe.

“He said, ‘not only is this safe, this is fun,’ and he came with his kids,” Pelc said. “He provided me with all the personal protection stuff that I needed. The sun was out, we had a nice turnout. It was a way of continuing an ancient custom, and people seemed to enjoy it.”

Though the photos are from the Christian Holy Week in April, Pelc’s unique approach to sharing blessings has more recently taken the internet by storm.

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Images of Pelc using the water gun have been edited into memes across the web, especially on Reddit and Imgur.

Pelc tells Buzzfeed News that he’s slowly adjusting to his newfound internet fame.

“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.”

The Father says his parish may reopen as soon as next week. Other churches throughout Detroit are planning to resume public masses on Monday with safety protocols in place amid the pandemic.

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About the Author:

Cassidy Johncox is a senior digital news editor covering stories across the spectrum, with a special focus on politics and community issues.