The smell of incense lingered, sunlight reflected off the clouds as the sun descended and the sounds of chirping birds took over once the music paused.
St. Anselm parishioners had pulled their cars onto the lot adjoining the parsh center in Creve Coeur May 21, many backing into parking spots. A few people set up folding chairs, others stayed in their vehicles.
In front of them was a canopy over an altar with candles lit. Melodies filled the air from musicians playing a keyboard and guitar.
Benedictine Father Aidan McDermott, pastor of St. Anselm Parish, held the Holy Eucharist and placed it into the monstrance on the table that served as an altar as the drive-in eucharistic adoration began.
Father McDermott said that an outdoor adoration was something a priest friend did in Nashville, and he decided to replicate it at the urging of youth minister Courtney Rockamann. The first one was earlier in the month, with 40-50 cars pulling up, and this time 35 or so were present.
“It’s bringing Christ to the streets,” the Benedictine priest said, noting that he views it as a part of the new evangelization in reaching out to people. It may be new, but it adheres to the rich tradition of the Church, he added.
With the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic and need to have social distancing, Rockamann said, “if people aren’t comfortable coming inside (the church) to visit Jesus, then we bring Him outside.”
She said the first time the parish held the drive-in adoration, about 20 teenagers came; several also were on hand May 21. Rockamann appreciates that they saw a need to take time to be with the Lord, explaining: “There’s nothing like being in His presence.”
Keyboardist Carmen Hinze of St. Anselm Parish and guitarist Greg Hulub of Our Lady of the Pillar Parish provided the music. Hinze said, “I’m honored to come and help people pray. People are hungry to be near the Lord.”
Anna Adelman, a Kirkwood High School student who took part while sitting in the back of a hatchback, said “as we slowly start going back to church we wanted to thank God for allowing that to happen.” A Kirkwood High student who was with her, Katie Williams, called the adoration “amazing” and said that that “after being inside so long, to have a sense of community is great.”
Eliot Casey, who sat in his car with his wife, Joan, said the drive-in adoration is creative and “a way to demonstrate your faith at a time when everyone is in lockdown.”
“It’s a blessing for us,” said Carol Lozano. Her husband, Bob, added that “it’s a chance to be with the Lord, a reminder that some things don’t change.”
He said he’s impressed with the creative ways his parish has spread the Gospel during the current circumstances.
Jane Sexton said she is a late sleeper and has difficulty getting up for morning Mass. So she looked forward to the evening adoration, which she said could help ease her with worries over her pet dog’s health.
The parish will continue the outdoor adoration the first and third Thursdays of the month at 7 p.m.
“The Eucharist, in the Mass and outside of the Mass, is the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, and is therefore deserving of the worship that is given to the living God, and to Him alone.”