In a note on his parish website, Holmer said that while it was a "great sorrow" to be unable to offer public Mass, the "drive through confessional" was one way he could offer sacraments to the people at this time.
"As we go through this Coronavirus, I hope to be in daily communication with you to create a sense of being connected as a parish throughout these uncertain days," he said.
The drive-up confessions will be available every day at varying times posted on the parish website, with an extended time of confessions from 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Sundays. A seminarian has been recruited to direct traffic, the priest noted, and the confessional will only be closed in cases of inclement weather, like heavy rain.
"This is turning out to be a Lent unlike any other. I believe the Lord is inviting us to an increased concern for the welfare of our neighbors and offering us the opportunity to make sacrifices for them. What a great Lenten penance for us all," Holmer said in the letter to parishioners on the parish website.
"Be assured of my prayers for you. Please pray for the health and welfare of all in our parish and in the surrounding community. I miss you all terribly," he added. The photo of Holmer's creative confessional inspired Fr. Ryan Salisbury of Syracuse, Nebraska to think about what he could offer his parishioners.
"A number of parishioners kept sharing that photo with me, and it was like, yeah, this is something we need to do."
Like Dietrich, he decided to set up a walk-up confessional through a window of the parish social hall.
"The way our social hall is designed, we have a classroom (where) the roof overhangs it. That way they're kind of protected even if it would rain or anything like that. And it has a direct line of sight from the parking lot. So, I can open a window, be inside and be there with my back to the window to remain anonymous for confession," Salisbury told CNA.
Salisbury said he planned on posting the new available confession times on the parishes website and social media pages, and that he planned on offering even more times than normal.
The priest said so far he has had about seven or eight parishioners ask him how they will be able to access confessions while ordinary Masses are suspended, so he knows it's something on the mind of many Catholics. He encouraged people to use the walk-up confessional even if they just wanted to talk.
"We as priests, we are praying for (Catholics) and during this time we're always there to offer anything that you need," he said.
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He added that he would encourage people "not to be afraid, to reach out with any concerns or questions or ideas that they might have. But most of all, (they should) know of our love for them and our prayer for them. And as difficult as this is for everyone, on our priestly hearts it's also very difficult not being able to administer to them in the way that we're used to. But we offer it up in every little sacrifice that we do," he said.
Fr. Cassidy Stinson, a priest at St. Bede Catholic Church in Williamsburg, Virginia, told CNA that his parish has "really big confessionals with good ventilation", so he is still offering confessions with or without a privacy screen, but at a safe distance of 6 feet or more.
Stinson has been promoting his still-open confessions on Twitter.
"We're trying to be creative to stay safe," he told CNA.
Fr. Carl Arcosa, like Fr. Holmer, is offering his parishioners at St Michael Parish in Livermore, California, a drive-up confessional, as well as "parking lot Benediction", starting on Thursday, the feast of St. Joseph.
"Only one occupant per car. Drive up to the courtyard driveway and remain in your car. A priest will keep a 6-foot distance from your car window to hear your confession and absolve you," say the instructions for drive-up confession, sent in an email to parishioners.