Larkspur parishioners surprise clergy with drive-by procession

Parishioners of St. Patrick Church in Larkspur gathered on Wednesday to surprise clergy members and thank them for their service during the pandemic.

More than 100 cars caused a bit of a traffic jam in the small town, as drivers lined up to create a drive-by procession.

“Originally when we first started putting this little thing together we thought 5 to 10 cars,” Reena Rosskopf, a parishioner, said .”The next thing you know, we have parishioners who are quite elderly from the early mass groups to the children of the school.”

The show of appreciation was for Reverend Monsignor Michael Padazinski and Reverend Andrew Ginter. Both men waved from a balcony to parishioners. Padazinski called the gesture a complete surprise.

“I have not had a surprise like this since I was 10 for a surprise birthday party,” Padazinski said.

The show of appreciation is part of a nationwide grassroots campaign called “Uplift Your Priest,” according to Vocation Ministry. The Houston-based organization said priests are having to offering sacraments to the sick and dying during the COVID-19 pandemic. They are also responsible for finding creative ways to serve parishioners while maintaining empty parishes.

“And it’s a very lonely time for them during the pandemic,” Barbara Cavalier, another St. Patrick parishioner, said. “They don’t get to see us. They do mass online. The campaign is really a way for us to uplift them.”

Marty Bautista said he has been filming the clergy each week for online mass. There has not been a service inside the church in six weeks.

“Shelter in place is pretty tough for a priest who is used to leading a congregation of hundreds and thousands,” Bautista said.

The procession of cars brought a smile to the faces of Padazinski and Ginter.

“We’re thrilled with the turnout, but that’s our community,” Angela Hadsell, Principal of St. Patrick School said. “We have a strong community.”

No matter the circumstances, people are keeping the faith. Proof it’s the people that make the church, not a building.

“I love that the community comes together just to let us know we’re not alone,” Ginter said. “We can be together alone which is so wonderful. The spirit of St. Pat’s is here. It’s truly a blessing.”