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Drive-thru confessions: Dawson County church adapting to suspended services, COVID-19
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The Rev. Rey Pineda waits to hear confessions on Thursday, March 26, in Dawsonville. Priests are obscured from confessors during confessions.

With so many churches having to adjust regular operations because of COVID-19, one Dawson County church is offering believers a way to observe church practices while still staying six feet apart. 

On March 26, Christ the Redeemer Catholic Church off Kilough Church Road offered drive-thru confessions from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., giving anyone who wanted to confess their sins the opportunity to do so.

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The Rev. Brian Higgins, pastor of Christ the Redeemer Catholic Church in Dawsonville.
The Archdiocese of Atlanta, the governing body that covers churches in North Georgia, has suspended Mass and Catholic schools through April 19. Confessions have also been interrupted.

The Rev. Brian Higgins, the church’s priest and pastor, explained that they came up with the idea for a drive-thru confession booth after numerous church members asked if there was a way to observe confession while still staying safe.

“We had a number of people requesting confession, especially during this season of Lent,” Higgins said, “so we wanted to come up with a way to take care of spiritual needs while still keeping them safe.”

In order to do this, tents were set up in the church’s parking lot for Higgins and the Rev. Rey Pineda, a visiting Atlanta priest.

As believers drove into the lot, they were directed to pull their cars up to the tent so they could confess to the priest inside without getting out of their car or coming within six feet of another person.

Members of the Blessed Mother Mary Council 15238 volunteered to help direct cars where to go, and with the help of traffic cones and signs, the event was pulled off with drive-thru efficiency.

The idea of drive-thru confessions is something that not a lot of nearby Catholic churches are doing yet, according to Higgins, but with so many churches closed due to COVID-19 the idea was a hit.

“We’ve had people calling us from as far away as Roswell and Atlanta asking about it,” Higgins said.

Another drive-thru confession could be in the works around Good Friday, depending on weather, Higgins said, but he hoped to have the event again regardless.

About 60 people total came to confess, according to Higgins, a turnout which he and the church were happy with considering how different the drive-thru confession is from normal operations.

“It’s good because this is so totally different than we ever had to do before,” Higgins said. “I believe it also helped to give a spiritual boost to so many during these confusing times.”

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Volunteers help escort motorists through drive-thru confession at Christ the Redeemer Catholic Church in Dawsonville.
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