Just ahead of the World Day of Prayer for Vocations May 3, many lay people in the Archdiocese of Vancouver have released video messages thanking their priests and encouraging them during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The collection of videos was the idea of Vocations director Father Paul Goo, who hoped the messages would inspire and strengthen priests who are preaching to empty pews and place a spotlight on the valuable work of clergy.

A compilation of these videos available here. (Priests have also recorded their own works of encouragement during the pandemic; read what they had to say here.)

May 3 is also celebrated in the archdiocese as Good Shepherd Sunday. A second collection is held on that day in support of local seminarians and priests; more information available here.

Danah Agustin

We are extremely blessed to have such strong, dedicated, and faithful shepherds that are continuously guiding and leading the flock during this time. Please know of our continued prayers for you and may God bless you.

The Altamirano family

Dear priests, thank you for your faithfulness. Even though we cannot talk with you as often as we did before and we can’t share in the Eucharist that God provides to us through your hands, we see you and listen to you and pray with you. You give us strength through your words and your advice and your counsel.

Thank you for being there for us. Thank you for celebrating the sacraments in what seems to be empty churches. Just be reassured that we are there with you in spirit.

Thank you for praying for us and know that we are also keeping you in our prayers.

I want to affirm all of you for all the work that you do for making sure we still have Mass. I know it’s probably not easy amidst all these confusing and unexpected times, but thank so much for all the work you are putting into the Catholic community.

Judith Ameresekere

Dearest priests, deacons, and seminarians of our Vancouver Archdiocese, I’d like you to know how grateful I am towards each one of you for your care and support and concern towards all the faithful in these challenging times.

Thank you for finding innovative ways to reach out to all of us. Thank you for livestreaming Mases and offering drive-thru confessions. A special thank you towards Father Paul Goo for supporting all the young adults through The Virtual Parish. We’re so grateful towards all of you, fathers. Thank you for all that you do.

Nicole Bitelli

I am nothing short of amazed at my two pastors at Christ the Redeemer Parish: Msgr. Greg Smith and Father Jeff Thompson. They have worked tirelessly through this pandemic, through emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion, to find new ways and sources to reach out to each and every one of their parishioners. I am so grateful to be part of this parish community and to have leaders with such deep faith and commitment.

Clara and Bryan

We have come to appreciate the priests in our parish (St. Augustine’s) as well as in the archdiocese because they give us hope; they give us hope that we will get through this and they remind us that God is there and he’s listening.

Even though we are not able to leave our homes, we feel they can still reach us through the Internet. We appreciate the efforts that they are doing. Thank you.

Sarah Chow

I affirm all the priests who work endlessly and have a lot of creative ways to still connect with a lot of young adults and their parishioners such as podcasts, livestreaming Mass, virtual parish, and a lot of faith formation and daily Mass. These priests are really creative in their own way to celebrate Mass with us and still help us connect with God even in this difficult time. 

To me, personally, I felt that Jesus is super present in my own room and in my own house even though I can’t physically go to church. Because of these priests’ help, I am able to do that and still have a deep relationship with Christ. So thank you all. I’m praying for all the priests in the world.

Irene de Souza

This pandemic hit a couple of months before my wedding and as I watched all of my hard work and plans fall apart, I became really overwhelmed. A pivotal moment for me was a video call I had with Father Paul who listened to my concerns and reminded me of what was important to me and of God’s nearness to my fiancé and I in the midst of all of this. I can honestly say that that was a really important step for me to finding peace amidst all of this. 

So I wanted to thank our priests for guiding your flock, for helping us navigate these confusing times, and for bringing Jesus into our homes.

Sheena Devota

Thank you to the many priests of the Archdiocese of Vancouver. You have been creative, courageous, and kind to all of us especially in this time of pandemic. Thank you for giving the ‘yes’ of your life in your vocation. We are truly blessed.

Reg Harbeck

I just want to record a video to say thank you and God bless you to my personal bucket brigade of priests, all the people in pastoral roles through my Catholic journey who have been key people helping me build my faith and stay blessed through all the various challenges.

Debora Juca

During this pandemic I think God has really opened my eyes and my heart to see how much pastors really do care for their people and how much this affects them, too, not only as individuals but as shepherds. It's been really moving to see the lengths to which our priests are going to stay connected to us, to provide us with sacraments, and to make sure we can still appreciate the Mass and we can still pray the Mass with them. It’s really beautiful to see.

It’s also been hard because I’ve been able to see how my priest is brokenhearted, how much it hurts him to see the empty church. I’ve been blessed to be able to help film Masses at my parish and I can see the pain on his face when he goes to preach the homily to a camera instead of a congregation of people. He’s being very optimistic about it and it’s really beautiful and moving to see that he misses his people and we are his people. It's something I never really clued into before, but our priests are our shepherds and they really do care for us. They are doing an amazing job of praying for us and trying to make the sacraments as accessible as possible to us.

It’s really, really beautiful and I have this whole new appreciation for priests everywhere, just to see the love they have for their people.

I cannot wait until this pandemic is over and the church can be full again.

Leah Magel

It's really difficult right now, being removed from our parish communities -- and from the sacraments most of all -- and what I really appreciate about our priests during this time is how much they are doing to reach out to us and to continue providing for us. It really puts the word ‘father’ in a whole new light and it’s just so reassuring to know that as much as we miss being able to continue to receive Jesus in the Eucharist, there are people on the other side reaching out to still keep bringing him to us. It’s so comforting.

Mary Moravec
(Message submitted in text form)

For an organization which has been very slow to change, I am surprised how quickly many priests adapted to this situation. I see the extraordinary efforts priests are going to in delivering the sacraments and how they connect with people. It is wonderful to see priests and their parish offices connecting with the parishioners in a completely new manner in some cases. And it pays off as we see many increases in online participation in this virtual world. I hope we continue to use all these new methods to connect with people once the pandemic is over and stop doing others which were not working as maybe they once did.

Personally, I have found many different ways in which multiple priests have been helpful. I have attended numerous different Masses or church events online outside my own parish, making it easy for me to participate when I had time. I have enjoyed it immensely, having this level of variety. Seeing Archbishop Miller more often as well as Pope Francis has helped me. Our parish offered a rosary meeting Monday through Friday each week. I found this meeting kept my prayer routine grounded each day and I could see other parishioners praying with me. Wonderful initiative.

Emi Namoro

What I have come to appreciate in priests in general is witnessing how much love they have for their people. Even though we are unable to be with one another in our respective parishes and unable to receive Christ in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, our priests are still out there on the frontlines, hearing our confessions, livestreaming Masses for us, and praying for us and our families every single day.

Thank you for living out your vocation in the truest way possible by bringing Christ to us in this time of uncertainty. It is utterly inspiring to know that the Church never stops and it never will. Thank you for leading by example and thank you for giving us hope. Please know that all of your efforts do not go unnoticed. You are loved. We love you. We are praying for you and I can’t thank you enough. God bless.

Arnel Penaso

We just want to thank you for continuing to shepherd us by means of personal phone calls and providing faith formation to us through online subscription, and for some of you by generously offering extended hours and hours of confession time during Lent and finding creative ways to help us adore the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament by means of live-stream adoration and drive-by adoration. I just want to thank you for helping us, the laity, to continue growing in our faith, especially during this time of the pandemic. God bless you and your  ministry.

Jack and Pollyanna

Living out your priestly vocation preaching into a camera has got to be difficult but we are here for you and praying for you. Pray for us.

You are doing an amazing job loving and leading the flock. Thank you so much and God bless you.

Francis Powell

Two weeks before the pandemic, I tore my meniscus and I was able to squeeze in a surgery before the lockdown. Father Francesco of All Saints Parish has reached out to me with kind and inspiring words. I’m truly thankful for his thoughts and his prayers during this hard time for me.

Karen Teufel

During the time of the pandemic something that I think is often overlooked with priests is that they essentially are frontline workers. They are ensuring that our community remains spiritually grounded and they are providing ministry to anyone in the community who is suffering, who might be affected by COVID, either directly or indirectly. That’s what I’ve really come to appreciate, is how much the priests really do for the whole Catholic community beyond just the day-to-day running of the parish. 

To my pastor in particular, Father Augustine, thank you so much for everything you’ve done and for how much you obviously care about your parish. We all love you and we’re all pulling for you.

Rachel Wong

What I really appreciate about priests right now in our diocese is just the amount of service and the lengths they are willing to go to connect with all of us, their parishioners.

It’s such a wonderful feeling to know that we have priests that look out for us, that continue to pray for us, and in the midst of all this craziness, they are putting all of us first. From the very bottom of my heart, I am so thankful and I just continue to pray for your safety and your health and wellbeing. I hope we can all be connected again very soon.

Mario Ylanan

These are unprecedented times for us given the separation that we have to endure with the coronavirus. Especially for me, this separation from people – people in the office, parishioners here in the parish – is relatively difficult. As you probably know, I am a relatively gregarious person.

God has a plan. He always has a plan for our good, and so with this I am looking forward to what that plan is. I trust in him and I’m looking forward to seeing you all back at the parish soon.