Catholic priest blesses, encourages Chattanooga's faithful at their homes during coronavirus pandemic

Staff photo by Wyatt Massey / The Very Reverend J. David Carter, far right, of the Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul holds a monstrance to bless a family on April 8 while Fr. Valentin Iurochkin shakes incense from a thurible. The priests made home visits the past week to bring encouragement to families who could not attend in-person worship services because of COVID-19 concerns.

In an effort to encourage Chattanooga's faithful through the ongoing global pandemic and its economic fallout, the Very Rev. J. David Carter of the Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul visited people at their homes on Wednesday.

Just as the priest did on Monday. And the week before. And just as he plans to do next week.

For nearly three hours on Wednesday morning, the priest traveled from house to house. At each stop, Carter, Sister Imelda Quechol, Fr. Colin Blatchford and Fr. Valentin Iurochkin set up a cross and monstrance, the elaborate sunburst-like vessel that holds the Holy Eucharist during Mass. The clergy, kneeling in the street or on sidewalks, prayed with each family and blessed them.

For many, this was their first in-person interaction with the church since the Basilica held its last service on March 19, when the church shut down over concerns about spreading the coronavirus.

"It