Priests around the Archdiocese of Portland have adapted to the pandemic with ingenuity and faith. Here’s one parishioner’s reflection on her pastor’s response, composed for his 22nd year as a priest.

WALDPORT — “He will keep him as a shepherd keeps his flock” (Jer 31:10). And so they gathered.

The parishioners of St. Anthony Parish here joined together July 11 to celebrate 22 years of priesthood for Father Joseph Hoang. The date also marked the first parish supper since the pandemic began.

Jerry Raveling, Knights of Columbus leader, and his crew supplied hamburgers and hot dogs and served the midday barbecue, which was grilled to perfection by Knight David Steckler. A variety of tasty side dishes from parishioners and entertainment from the church choir completed the feast for our pastor.

Born in Saigon, south Vietnam, Father Hoang has lived in the United States since 1975. He was ordained in 1999 and served in several Oregon churches before coming to St. Anthony in August 2016.

Father Hoang has not missed a day of Mass during the pandemic and heard the call to begin a video ministry for daily and Saturday pre-taped Masses. Early on in the isolation phase he spread the word of the Lord and encouraged his online flock to trust the Lord in all things. Many homebound parishioners all over the country and overseas tuned in to the Masses via Facebook, YouTube and on the updated St. Anthony website.  

Through perseverance and prayer, Father Hoang has turned many challenges into opportunities to share his faith in the Lord with his flock. He was inspired to promote a guest columnist section in the weekly online bulletin, believing that by sharing our faith, our trials and triumphs, our Christian life, we can encourage others and be a witness to God working in our lives. Father Hoang has said he wants to “teach others to be fishers of men” and show how we are all disciples of Christ.

Father Hoang is a priest who spreads the joy of the Lord as he teaches us to accept God’s will and be thankful for all that God does in our lives.

Hoffman is a member of St. Anthony Parish in Waldport.