TORONTO -- The COVID-19 pandemic has provided divine inspiration to a Catholic church in Ontario offering drive-thru confession.

Priests at St. Michael the Archangel church in Belleville have found a way to offer the sacrament by sitting at an open rectory window two metres from parishioners who drive up to confess their sins from the driver’s seat.

The church says this is in keeping with the physical distancing protocols put in place to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

“We have been very inventive… people just drive up and the window opens, the priest is behind the window and receives the penitent,” Rev. Richard Whalen told CTV’s Your Morning.

“The church has always been inventive, we’ve been on battlefields and in prisons and in hospitals everywhere to offer the sacraments.”

Under the state of emergency declared by the government of Ontario in March, places of worship across the province have been forced to shut their doors.

Confessions are offered two hours daily, 11.30a.m. to 12.30p.m. and 5p.m. to 6p.m. But that’s not the only vehicular-based worship available at St. Michael’s.

Due to pandemic restrictions, the church has also reduced its 24-hour adoration, a Catholic devotion to Jesus in the eucharist, to the hours of 8a.m. to 9p.m.

“The blessed sacrament will be exposed in the north entrance behind the glass,” a note in the parish bulletin read.

“Adorers should park their cars in front of the north entrance and adore from their cars.”

Rev. Whalen said some people sit for up to an hour, spending their time in prayer.

“It’s a great source of strength and help for people in this crisis,” he said.

St Michael’s, like many churches since lockdown, is also live streaming mass on Facebook, which is later posted on YouTube.

“When I look at the camera, it’s an amazing gift of grace that I carry my people in my heart, I have a real sense of their presence,” Rev. Whalen said.

“I know that I’m talking directly to them. I know they’re suffering not being able to go to church. I’m so blessed that I have an opportunity to speak God’s word to them.”