Faced with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, a church in the East Bay has made some changes in order to continue to reach its congregation.
St. Columba Catholic Church in Oakland is now livestreaming mass online and offering drive-thru confessions for those seeking to absolve their sins.
“Instantly I started to think, 'Well, how can we use all of these different things to stay connected?" Fr. Aidan McAleenan said.
The results have been miraculous. Last Sunday’s mass reached more than 2,000 people — five times more than the normal Sunday service.
“I even said to one woman, 'Oh, I see that you're in your pajamas and you usually come to church all [dressed up] and beautiful,' and she's like, 'Oh, father!” McAleenan said.
McAleenan borrowed the drive-up confessions idea from a Pleasanton parish.
“Drive up, talk and get absolution,” he said.
Parishioner and staff member Joyce Scotlan said the changes have given folks a much-needed sense of normalcy.
“Our faith, really, I think is what's keeping us sane in all of this craziness,” she said.
McAleenan said homicides in Oakland have halted during the pandemic.
"The numbers have come down and that's a really beautiful thing that you wouldn't have necessarily thought of in this time of crisis," McAleenan said.
St. Columba places crosses out in front of the church for every murder in the city — a tradition they’ve been doing for years.