Priests promote vocations during the lockdown

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Whanganui’s two Catholic priests have put together a vocations promotional video titled “Priests in Lockdown”.

The 40-minute video, featuring Catholic Parish of Whanganui – Te Parihi Katorika Ki Whanganui parish priest Fr Vaughan Leslie and assistant priest Fr Nathaniel Tat Brazil, was streamed on Facebook and on the Whanganui Catholic YouTube channel on April 12, Easter Sunday.

At the start of the video, Fr Leslie said: “Rather than just see us and hear from us during the celebration of the Mass [online], we thought we would share a little bit about ourselves, our own families, our backgrounds, our histories and our vocational stories, to offer you a little bit of insight into our lives, to get out of the presbytery chapel – we actually do have other rooms in the presbytery – and just to share a little bit about ourselves and maybe encourage yourselves to encourage vocations or, if somebody is watching [who] in themselves maybe feels called to the priesthood, [they] could perhaps relate to some of what we are sharing with you tonight.”

Fr Leslie told NZ Catholic that “parishioners were delighted to be able to learn something about the clergy and our vocational stories – that which they would never have heard of it wasn’t for the lockdown”.

As of April 22, the video had had 394 views on YouTube and 1400 on Facebook.

Fr Leslie said he and Fr Brazil decided to make the video “because we knew vocations could still be promoted, even in lockdown, and [in] particular as people had more time to watch such a presentation”.

Fr Leslie added that he decided that the video would be done in one cut and “any mistakes would simply add to the flavour”.

He added that online streamed Masses from the parish every day had had good viewership and feedback, and had allowed participation by some people who might have been unable to get to Mass normally because of age or illness. He added that it had also helped reconnect some “resting” Catholics with the Church.

“The challenge for some will be making the transition from sofa to pew – but I’m sure the Holy Spirit is working hard on reconnecting many souls during this time of lockdown,” Fr Leslie said.

Fr Leslie added that “we had drive-through confessions before we went into lockdown and it worked surprising well – it was a very powerful experience for those who turned up because people knew the sacrament wouldn’t be offered again any time soon”.

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Michael Otto

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