Parents Host a ‘Socially Distanced’ Baptism for Their Baby -- Complete With a Squirt Gun

As we continue social distancing, more and more people are getting creative to keep things as normal as possible. That includes couple Mary and Kyle Nielsen from Norwood Young America, Minnesota, who went viral for their pastor's unique solution to baptize their son, Wesley James, while managing to observe social distancing regulations.

  • The Nielsens planned their son's baptism for the end of March so everyone in their family could make it.

    But like so many of us, their plans changed as the global health crisis changed life as we know it. The couple really didn't want to postpone the ceremony for their baby boy, however, KTTC reported.

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  • They ended up having their son's baptism in their home March 29, without any of the family members they'd hope would attend.

    "When I had called my parents -- my family -- and told them they weren't going to be around ... my brother had made the comment -- with social distancing -- the six feet -- was the pastor going to use a water hose?" Mary told the news station.

  • A water hose was just a bit too much, so the family settled on something smaller instead.

    A squirt gun. 

    "[My brother was] like, I want a picture of that," Mary said. "So when baptism day came, we did the real thing first of course, and then afterwards we made sure to do the picture of the pastor holding a water gun and my husband just held Wesley out there and made sure we got a good photo op of that.

    "Just to get some laughs and smiles to the family that couldn't be there," she added.

  • The photo has since been passed around the internet.

    Where it, of course, went viral. More than 340,000 people have shared the photo on Facebook, and for the most part the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive.

    "I believe God has a sense of humor ... He gets this!" one person wrote in the comments.

    "I hope the preacher is a good shot, and it's a good water gun, or this Baptism could take all day," someone else joked.

    "GREAT to have a pastor/priest with an awesome sense of humor!" someone else commented.

  • Some people didn't think the gag was funny.

    "This isn't even funny in the least! So sad and pathetic," one person wrote under the post.

    "It's sad and disrespectful," someone else added. "[Making a] joke of a holy sacrament I can't even see [why] the priest got involved in this."

    "At least put some goggles on her," a third person commented. "And protect her little soft scalp, too. Why can’t the parents just sprinkle it on her? Not loving this..."

    The Nielsens reiterated to KTTC that their pastor never actually squirted Wesley. Instead, the priest baptized him and then posed for the shot.

  • This isn't the first time that a religious leader has gotten popular online for getting creative.

    A priest in Manchester, Tennessee, went viral for staging a photo where he too aimed a squirt gun at an infant at the request of the family, a post on the Saint Mark Catholic Church Facebook from Monday noted.

  • In April, Father Tim Pelc became internet famous for using a water gun to bless parishioners' Easter baskets as they drove by in their cars.

    Speaking with Buzzfeed News on May 16, Pelc said that he wanted to do something fun for the kids who attend his Catholic church and made sure to observe all social distancing regulations.

    "We had a nice turnout, " Pelc said. "It was a way of continuing an ancient custom, and people seemed to enjoy it."

  • Meanwhile, the Nielsens are enjoying their newfound internet fame, but agree that the intention of the photo was to make people laugh.

    Mom Mary joked that she can't wait to tell her son that he "got quite famous when you were only 2 months old, ya' know," she said.

    And the couple is just happy that their photo is making other people smile.

    "Nope, it's gonna be an awesome memory to have," Mary added. "Definitely."

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