NOCATEE, Fla. — Friday afternoon, neighborhoods throughout Saint Johns County will join in prayer at the same time as they receive a blessing from their local parish priest and pray for an end to the pandemic.
The public is invited to join as St. John Paul II Catholic Church in Nocatee begins the Hour of Divine Mercy at 3 p.m. The prayer will be led by Father Richard Pagano. He will be accompanied by St. Augustine Beach Police Department Chief Robert Hardwick as they conduct a flyover of the Nocatee, Ponte Vedra and St. Augustine areas by helicopter.
In an announcement, the parish thanked local patron, Deb Chapin, who arranged the air transportation to help unite the area in prayer.
According to the release:
"Father Pagano will offer Benediction with the Blessed Sacrament in the monstrance over all of our neighborhoods. As they fly over the area, Father Pagano invites you to pray beginning at the Hour of Divine Mercy devotions such as the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, the Rosary, the Stations of the Cross or any other devotion asking God for His blessing of protection. Let us join him today in prayer and solidarity for the end to the Coronavirus pandemic and for healing to all those who have been affected."
On Instagram, the parish wrote, "Let us join him today in prayer and solidarity for the end to the Coronavirus pandemic and for healing to all those who have been affected."
Catholic priests have been conducting flyover blessings and prayers all over the world for centuries. Father Anthony Manuppella, pastor of St. Gianna Beretta Molla Parish in Northfield, New Jersey prayed from a plane for God's blessing and protection as the coronavirus spread across the state and the globe last week.
A similar instance took place in New Bedford, Massachusettes where, according to The Anchor News, "in an effort to raise the spirits of faithful across the diocese during the Coronavirus pandemic, two diocesan priests decided to raise themselves and the ultimate Spirit — Our Lord, Jesus Christ — literally thousands of feet into the air."
In Bridgeport, Connecticut two local priests used an airplane to pray over their diocese. Fathers Brian Gannon and Father Flavian Bejan, of St. Theresa Church in Trumbull, flew with the Holy Eucharist in a monstrance and a statue of the Virgin Mary, according to local news reports. They also prayed the rosary along with other prayers while they too asked for the community to join them in "asking God to end the spread of the virus, heal the victims, and comfort those suffering."