squirt gun priest

St. Ambrose Parish

Detroit priest becomes a viral meme for using squirt guns to give holy water blessings

'You can't have a church without the pews...'


Stacey Ritzen

Internet Culture

Posted on May 18, 2020   Updated on May 18, 2020, 12:47 pm CDT

The coronavirus pandemic has forced many businesses and operations to come up with creative ways of interacting with the public—such as employing curbside pickup and contactless delivery methods. But the virus presented an especially complicated dilemma for members of the clergy, who are used to blessing parishioners with holy water. At least one came up with a brilliant solution involving some holy water and a squirt gun.

Father Tim Pelc of the St. Ambrose Parish, a Detroit-area “communio” of Catholic Christians, recently discovered that he could get around the virus by filling a dang squirt gun with holy water. But before you get the mental image of a rogue priest literally squirting the devil out of people, Pelc, 70, originally got the idea as a way of blessing his parishioners’ Easter baskets from a respectably safe distance.

The photos were initially posted to the church’s Facebook page at the time—though, just recently, they’ve surfaced on Twitter where Pelc has become a legit viral sensation.

Pelc, 70, who admits to having a “pretty wacky mind and pretty accepting congregation,” told BuzzFeed News that his original idea was to do something fun for the kids of the parish.

“They were about ready to have an Easter unlike any of their past,” he said. “So I thought, What can we still do that would observe all the protocols of social distancing?”

Before going forward with it, Pelc consulted with an emergency room doctor friend, who gave the idea his blessing, so to speak. His friend not only provided him with all the necessary equipment to stay safe from the virus, but even turned out with his own kids.

“It was a way of continuing an ancient custom, and people seemed to enjoy it,” Pelc added, in the understatement of the year. Photos of Pelc with his squirt have since become a full-blown meme on social media, with people sharing the image with plenty of jokes.

And yes, there were “pew” jokes galore:


Over on Reddit, Pelc and his squirt gun became the subject of a Photoshop battle. His favorite is apparently an image of himself Photoshopped onto an old Doom video game box.

Both Pelc and his church (also gleefully sharing the memes on Facebook) are delighted with the father’s (and his squirt gun’s) newfound fame.

“I’m not objecting to it,” he said. “This whole idea of combating evil is a good one. When Jesus dies, he doesn’t just lay around doing nothing. He goes down to hell and kicks the doors in. He really wrestles with evil. We all want to believe that the devil is not the most powerful force on the earth and neither is COVID-19.”

Take that, COVID-19. Father Pelc and his squirt gun are coming for you, and they are all out of bubblegum.


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*First Published: May 18, 2020, 12:46 pm CDT