Photos of parishioners in the pews of GR church

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Schools, stores and restaurants are closed, and in the season of Lent, churches are empty too.

 You may have seen the picture from Italy of a church with pictures of parishioners in the pews.

Father Mark Peacock at Holy Spirit Parish on Grand Rapids’ West Side isn’t taking credit for the idea. One of his parishioners, whose home church is in Italy, told him about the idea during this time of isolation.

“They (pictures) keep coming in. Every time I go back to my computer, more and more emails are coming in. I keep hitting the print button,” Peacock said.

Photos of parishioners in the pews at Holy Spirit Parish in Grand Rapids. (March 19, 2020)
Photos of parishioners in the pews at Holy Spirit Parish in Grand Rapids. (March 19, 2020)

According to canon law, a priest must celebrate Mass even if the faithful can’t be present.

Inside the chapel, every seat has a picture of a parishioner, couple or family taped to it. They’re overflowing onto the back wall of the room.

Even during this time of social distancing and isolation, Peacock has a packed house.

Photos of parishioners in the pews at Holy Spirit Parish in Grand Rapids. (March 19, 2020)
Photos of parishioners in the pews at Holy Spirit Parish in Grand Rapids. (March 19, 2020)

“When I came to celebrate Mass yesterday (Wednesday), looking at faces it really took on a whole new meaning for me. It was really profound,” Peacock said.

All it took was a mass email to the church. A plea to not miss Mass by emailing a picture so all can be there in spirit.

“They’re also telling me where they sit in church. You know, front, center, left on the end, which I’ve also found very engaging and humorous,” said Peacock.

Photos of parishioners in the pews at Holy Spirit Parish in Grand Rapids. (March 19, 2020)
Photos of parishioners in the pews at Holy Spirit Parish in Grand Rapids. (March 19, 2020)

As Father Mark tries his best to keep to the everyone’s seating ritual, he’s keeping the ritual of daily Mass alive in this most unusual of Lenten seasons.

“I actually sat down in the presider’s chair and looked at the faces and just tried to pray for all of the people here and all of our families here at Holy Spirit,” said Peacock.

Father Mark says the effort is expanding beyond the parish at this point. He welcomes more people to send their pictures.

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