Last Thursday, Father Juan Benitez blessed the city of Rochester in New York and its surrounding suburbs from 2000 feet above.
Father Benitez is the parochial vicar of Saint Louis Catholic Church in Pittsford, just southeast of Rochester. With the help of parishioner and pilot Anthony Daniele, Benitez was able to bless his parish the same way he says the priests in his native Colombia did when he was a child.
Benitez said he hoped to comfort the Faithful with his aerial sprinkling of Holy Water and blessing of Monroe Country during a time of fear and anxiety surrounding the coronavirus pandemic:
“The intention was just to tell the people that they are not alone. Many people are afraid, they have never seen this in their lifetime. In these moments, the church becomes someplace to find comfort.”
Daniele obtained special permission to fly at a low altitude, 2000 feet instead of the usual 6,000 feet. Slowing the plane down to just 90 mph, Benitez opened the window, poured out one of the bottles of Holy Water he brought with him, then said a prayer “extended to everyone, praying for the whole world and the whole country.”
“The world is stopping. This is an opportunity in the midst of a crisis. One of the positives things is families are together. Good things could come. Families could strengthen their bonds. The message is, ‘Don’t worry. God is with you. Enjoy your family, your people, be at peace, eat well, rest and recharge energy. And of course, be safe.”
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