Ireland's first drive-through confirmation began in driving rain — but the sun came out for the anointing of the children.
Parish priest, Fr. Roy Donovan, gamely donned waterproof gear over his vestments yesterday afternoon to preside over the novel lunchtime ceremony in the teeming rain in the car park of Caherline Church in Co. Limerick.
Father Donovan said the original plan of an open-air ceremony for the 26 fifth-class pupils in the church car park had to be abandoned due to inclement weather conditions.
“Maybe the novelty will make an extra-strong memory of it", he said.“It evolved because we wanted to keep each class together and they couldn’t go into the church.
“Obviously the weather didn’t work out for us and then one of the teachers suggested, 'let them bring in their cars’.
“We had a Plan B of letting each pupil go into the church with their sponsor and the rest would remain outside and even a plan C to live stream from the church to those outside.
“We didn’t go down that road so it has worked out very well. I was relying on the creativity of the school as well, ideas were coming from the staff as we went along."
He said there was a very good-humoured atmosphere around the church car park during the unique ceremony.
All the cars with the confirmation child in the car park faced the priest who was standing at a makeshift altar.
“I just wore rain gear over the alb (liturgical vestment). I didn’t get wet at all. Then the lovely warm sun came out for the anointing. Otherwise I was going to go around and anoint them in each car.
“Each child was called out by name and were able to come up to the table and they got high visibility and a bit of attention.”
School principal Gearóid Power, said 25 sixth class pupils were confirmed at 2pm with the 26 fifth class pupils at 12.
”I imagine it is the first drive-through confirmation”, he said. “It’s a unique experience, I suppose, and they’ll never forget their confirmation.
“They were communicating out through the windows and talking and waving out the windows at each other.
“It ran off fairly well and everyone was happy enough to be able to stay out of the weather. Father (Donovan) was a real hero. He wasn’t fazed. We’re very fortunate to have him in the parish."
Orla Collins, mother of 11 year old Charlie Collins, said the ceremony was a sign of times.
“It shows how modern Father Roy is. He was there in his Regatta rain jacket in the driving rain. The kids were delighted. They’ll always remember it and they will always be the kids who made their confirmation in the schoolyard.
“Father Roy is such a modern priest and really relates to the children.
“We could hear perfectly and my son did his reading out of the window of the car. It was nice to do something different."