America's faithful found new ways to worship during the pandemic

Worshipers find new ways to keep the faith during COVID
Worshipers find new ways to keep the faith du... 02:39

Last Updated Apr 2, 2021 7:07 PM EDT

At the start of the pandemic, Father Tim Pelc of Saint Ambrose Catholic Church near Detroit had a problem.  How in heaven's name was he was going to sprinkle holy water on Easter baskets, while maintaining social distancing?

Photos of Pelc went viral last year when he used a squirt gun to dispense holy water on parishioners. 

"I know I had a couple of detractors in the clergy saying this was sacrilegious to do it that way and I said, 'Guys, we're talking about chocolate bunnies and sausages here,'" he said. 

screen-shot-2020-05-18-at-11-31-47-am.png
Father Pelc sprayed holy water to churchgoers using a squirt gun on Easter weekend. Larry Peplin

That's why this year, he plans to go bigger. Not a bigger gun, just more Easter baskets. 

It's that kind of ingenuity we've seen across the country throughout the pandemic — from choir in your car to Zoom Passover Seders. We saw people bundled up in beach chairs and lots of praying behind the wheel. The drive-through has been a real godsend to folks of all faiths. 

But even those who stayed home found ways to keep it special, like 82-year-old La Verne Wimberly of Tulsa, Oklahoma, who still got dressed to the nines every Sunday — always in a different outfit — just to watch her church service on the internet.

"It's kind of a reverence. You want to be respectful when you go to church and that's the reason why I continued," Wimberly said. 

La Verne said she is running out of closet space. "That's right, it cannot go another 52 Sundays, that's for sure!"

Fortunately, there is much more hope this Easter weekend compared to last. Thanks to the vaccines, the renewal we celebrate in all our spring traditions feels especially profound. I felt that firsthand when my wife's parents — both fully vaccinated — came to visit us this week. It was the first time we'd seen them in over a year. 


To contact On the Road, or to send us a story idea, email us: OnTheRoad@cbsnews.com.   

  • Steve Hartman
    Steve Hartman

    Steve Hartman has been a CBS News correspondent since 1998, having served as a part-time correspondent for the previous two years.