ST. LOUIS ( -- For the first time in history, the Archdiocese of St. Louis has suspended public masses due to the ongoing outbreak of COVID-19.

For many, the loss of church services has added to the stress of dealing with the pandemic and feeling isolated in their homes.

Pews sit empty at Our Lady of the Peace in House Springs, as many public masses are at halt across the country.

But Wednesday, parishioners waited outside the church to witness history.

Earlier in the day, Deacon Tom Gerling boarded a plane with Father John Schmitz as the pilot, and the two flew over the area offering the Eucharistic blessing to more than 10 parishes across three counties.

“We took him to the churches because can’t gather in large groups today,” Schmitz said. 

In just over and hour and a half, they reached worshipers in 11 parishes in Jefferson, Washington, and Franklin Counties

Some 70 people gathered in the Our Lady of Peace parking lot, parking their car to form a cross. Cars parked to form a cross.

 For some, it's the first time they've seen their church family or received a Eucharist blessing in more than a week.

“It’s really been hard, no communion," said parishioner Joanne David. "That’s the hardest part probably.”

Just after 3 p.m., with the sun finally shining, the plane circled above the parishioners before heading to the next location.

It provided hope and security for the many people who feel lost in an uncertain time. 

"This is my 40th year as a deacon and I think this is a one of the greatest experiences I’ve had outside of being at the mass when John Paul II was here,” Deacon Gerling said. 

Copyright 2020 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved

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