WALDPORT — When God called St. Anthony Parish in Waldport, the people answered, "Here we are Lord!"

The community made haste to shelter-in-place and stay healthy and safe from COVID-19. In the beginning, Father Joseph Hoang celebrated Mass alone and to an empty house. His call was to continue with Mass, no matter what. He tried his homily on his dogs one time but he said with a smile, “They just fell asleep.” Within a week, Father Hoang was preaching to a full parish of smiling faces — 8x10 photos of his flock.  When others heard of the empty church, they took the call to send in a photo of themselves.

When Bob and Lisa Hoffman prayed for God's guidance and protection from COVID-19 they heard, “Follow me. Be not afraid.”

"Our faith may be compromised by the fears and worries of the day.  But we pray daily for God to guide our steps and we know he gives us the strength and faith by grace to carry on and do his will," recalled Bob. So the couple joined Father Hoang in daily private Mass as essential servants to the Lord.

     In the midst of isolation and quiet, others began hearing the voice of the Lord. Ice Husband heard the call to reach out and offer her talents in media development. She shared her time to video tape the Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday Masses for the first time ever at St. Anthony's. Since then, four weekday video Masses have been included with Sunday Mass on the St. Anthony Church website, Facebook page and YouTube channel. Husband uses three camera phones for view variety, dubs in music when necessary and edits out wait time as social distancing guidelines are followed. For those missing the Holy Sacrament, parishioners now have an act of spiritual communion as presented by the Archdiocese of Portland, within the home Mass. Choir members heard the call and arranged alternating days to join Sunday Mass tapings. The flowers and altar were beautifully arranged with a personal touch.  Others stepped out in faith and trust to support Father Hoang with this new ministry. 

“God's house was alive again,” said Lisa.

God's message of coming together in unity with the Holy Spirit was heard at St. Anthony Church, she recalled. 

“This coronavirus should not infect the faith of God’s people. We do not get a busy signal when we call on God. If we are put on hold, relax more. Pray more. Be thankful more. And listen to what God has to say to you today.”