Bloomington pastor’s photo of rainbow spreads hope, reminds of God’s presence

A rainbow arches over St. Patrick Church of Merna in Bloomington in this photo taken April 23 by Father Dustin Schultz, pastor. The photo has been widely shared on social media with the rainbow being viewed as a symbol of hope by Catholics longing to return to their churches for Mass and all praying for an end to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Provided photo/Father Dustin Schultz)

BLOOMINGTON — Father Dustin Schultz noticed the rainbow as he pulled his car out of the rectory driveway after storms rolled through the city early on Thursday evening, April 23.

His photo capturing the colorful bow arching over St. Patrick Church of Merna, which Father Schultz serves as pastor, has now been noticed by thousands via social media as a symbol of hope during these challenging times of pandemic illness and separation.

“What a magnificent reminder of God’s beauty and love,” wrote Amy Hardy, one of nearly 170 to post comments beneath the photo on the parish’s Facebook page. The image has been shared 125 times and garnered more than 600 reactions on the parish site alone.

“I love how the top of the arc is right at the cross (of the church’s bell tower). Beautiful!” wrote Marylynn Courey Meredith.

“That means so much right now!” chimed in Deanne Hauser Bryant.

“BY GOD’S GRACE AND FAVOR”

Father Schultz told The Catholic Post he enjoys taking photos of the church, dedicated in 2006 at the edge of Bloomington’s expanding east side.

“Whenever there is a beautiful sunset or cloud formation I try and take pics of the church with them in the background,” he said. “In these picturesque photos, eyes are naturally drawn to our free standing bell tower. This picture is no exception. By God’s grace and favor I was able to get a few good pictures.”

After taking the rainbow photos, he shared them with parish staff. One was posted on the parish’s Facebook page with this caption:
“Couldn’t have asked for a more perfect message from God. We are facing some difficult times . . . but there will be an end and we will all be back together soon!”

“Couldn’t have asked for a more perfect message from God. We are facing some difficult times . . . but there will be an end and we will all be back together soon!” — Caption to photo on the St. Patrick Church of Merna Facebook page

The reaction was immediate. Most of the comments described the photo as “beautiful.” Other adjectives included awesome, amazing, priceless, joyous, encouraging, comforting, and reassuring.

The Catholic Post was among the many sharing the photo via Facebook. It quickly drew an additional 250 reactions at our site.

Father Schultz says the photo is a symbol of hope, and more.

GOD’S COVENANT, LOVE, PRESENCE

“I think amidst the pandemic our people more deeply appreciate seeing God work, even through the beauty of a rainbow,” he said. “In fact, I believe this picture gives hope and serves to remind us that God is present and working during this time of global pandemic.

“I have so much hope for the good that God is doing in our lives, in our families, and in our culture right now,” Father Schultz continued. “The Church has consistently taught that God allows evils to occur in order that He might bring about greater good through it. I just pray that all of us open our hearts to God working in these days.”

Patricia Kniery’s reaction to the photo was one of both gratitude and petition.

“Thank you, God!” she wrote. “We need you to bless us and help us all. We love you so much.”

Judy Stroh appreciated the biblical story of the rainbow after the great flood in Noah’s time. “A reminder of God’s covenant and love for us,” she wrote.

Kim Frakes Baker also considered the image “a sign from God” and added a sentiment shared by members of parishes across the nation unable to gather for Masses or devotions.

“I miss my church!” wrote Baker.

The rainbow photo is now the featured photo on St. Patrick Church of Merna’s Facebook page. Father Schultz pointed out that the orange cones evident in the parking lot are for drive-up confessions, which the church offers from noon to 4 p.m. every Friday.

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