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Priest uses squirt gun to shoot holy water while maintaining social distancing

FILE -  In this Saturday, April 11, 2020 file photo, Rev. Timothy Pelc blesses Easter baskets outside St. Ambrose Church in Grosse Pointe Park, Mich. Pelc, wearing church vestments and protective gear, offered a prayer and sprayed holy water from a squirt gun instead of blessing baskets inside the church in a bid to maintain social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic. (Natalie White via AP)
FILE - In this Saturday, April 11, 2020 file photo, Rev. Timothy Pelc blesses Easter baskets outside St. Ambrose Church in Grosse Pointe Park, Mich. Pelc, wearing church vestments and protective gear, offered a prayer and sprayed holy water from a squirt gun instead of blessing baskets inside the church in a bid to maintain social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic. (Natalie White via AP) (Natalie White)

DETROIT – A Roman Catholic priest in the Detroit area has taken aim at his parishioners in a bid to maintain social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic, using a squirt gun to shoot holy water.

Photos posted on social media by the St. Ambrose Church show the Rev. Tim Pelc shooting water into a car window as it stopped by the steps of the church on Easter. He wore a mask, face shield and rubber gloves as further precautions against spreading the coronavirus.

Blessing of the Easter Foods, April 11, 2020 Adapting to the need for social distancing, St. Ambrose continued it's...

Posted by St. Ambrose Parish on Sunday, April 12, 2020

The photos of the priest at the church in Grosse Pointe Park have inspired memes online. One shows the 70-year-old priest amid the fires of hell directing the squirt gun at devil-like figures.

Pelc told BuzzFeed News for an article over the weekend that he was a little concerned about how the Vatican might react when the photos of him squirting holy water began circulating widely on the internet. But, he said, “I haven’t heard anything yet.”

The idea was to find a way to continue a tradition of blessing Easter baskets despite the pandemic. One photo shows Pelc standing behind a car with its hatchback door up, shooting water at a basket of flowers.

The church and surrounding communities have taken the pandemic seriously, Pelc said. Parishioners have tied blue ribbons on trees at the church for each person who has died of COVID-19 in Michigan. That number is now approaching 5,000.