A Louisiana Catholic church has come up with a novel way of blessing locals.
St. Anne Church in Abbeville sprayed 100 gallons of holy water over the community on Saturday with the help of a tiny, low-flying plane traditionally used to spray pesticides on farms.
Rev. Matthew Barzare, the parish’s young priest, told NPR that this was the largest amount of water he had ever blessed.
“I’ve blessed some buckets for people and such, but never that much water,” the priest said.
Following a Mass at St. Anne’s Church on Saturday morning, parishioners traveled to a nearby airstrip to load water onto the crop duster. The agricultural aircraft was flushed of pesticides before it took off on its trip around the neighborhood, The Guardian reports.
Barzare said he asked the pilot to focus on spraying locations where people gathered, such as grocery stores, schools and churches.
L’Eryn Detraz, a Catholic missionary who is a native of the area, came up with the idea of distributing holy water through a crop duster, the Diocese of Lafayette said in a Facebook post.
Barzare told The Guardian that he saw the holy water distribution as a way of bringing his rural parish together during the holidays. He also pointed out that Catholic priests have a long tradition of blessing farmers’ fields during Ember Days, which occur at the beginning of every season.
“My area that I have to cover is a good 30 minutes to the next church, and so by plane, we realized, it might be the easiest way to sprinkle people’s fields, rather than me going in a car to different locations,” he told NPR.
Barzare told The Guardian that the event was so popular with his church that he hopes to repeat it next year.
“We can bless a larger area with 300 gallons of water than we can with 100,” he said.