Venezuelans find joy in live "drive-in" Mass services

Drive-in Mass services becoming a Sunday favourite with Venezuelans

While most of the churches in Venezuela have been closed for seven months due to the lockdown, Catholic Priest Jonathan González has transformed his church parking lot into a drive-in for Mass celebrations.

From the back doorsteps of the Santuario Nuestra Señora de Coromoto (Sanctuary of Our Lady of Coromoto) in the middle class neighborhood of El Paraíso, in the west of the capital, González, along with other priests, hold Mass services every fifteen days.

On Sunday, dozens of parishioners listened and participated in the ceremony from the comfort of their cars.

Adhering to coronavirus restrictions, priests perform the ceremony and approach the cars only to deliver the host in the hand of the parishioners during communion.

After the first cases of COVID-19 were reported in mid-March, authorities imposed a lockdown and ordered the suspension of gatherings in religious temples and other public events to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.

In Venezuela there have been 89,142 infections and 770 deaths caused by coronavirus according to Johns Hopkins University, which collates tallies from around the world.

The government recently announced that it is considering a possible reopening of religious temples as part of a process of relaxing measures, since there has been a reduction in infections reported in recent weeks.

González, a 43-year-old priest, said people must sign up online ahead of time for the 30 spots available for vehicles during the service.

With more than 15 "drive-in masses" celebrated since August, he said his church is a pioneer of the initiative in Venezuela, a mostly Catholic country.

Other countries such as France, Colombia and Paraguay, Catholic religion have also resorted to the "drive-in masses."