Even in good times, Father Carlos Verdía Nay does not collect a full salary for his duties as pastor of a poor parish outside of San Juan, Puerto Rico.
But now, amidst the coronavirus, his meager weekly salary of $300 is a sum that his parishioners simply cannot afford due to their unemployment as a result of the pandemic.
Regardless of whether he receives compensation, this joyful and humble pastor lovingly cares for his parishioners daily. This good pastor is not worried about himself, but about the wellbeing of those he serves. The Archdiocese of San Juan has turned to Catholic Extension to support his salary.
His parish, Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, is no stranger to suffering. In 2017, it was hit hard by Hurricane Maria. Parishioners went for months without electricity and running water.
Now, as the COVID-19 pandemic has spread, things are even more difficult, with many people losing their jobs and everyone feeling a sense of despair.
In these times of social distancing, Father Carlos has adapted his ministry. His new tool for evangelization and pastoral care is “WhatsApp” to connect directly with parishioners. Through a group chat, he talks to them daily.
Every morning, he reads them the Gospel and shares a reflection to offer encouragement and hope. He tells them how much he loves and misses them.
Recently, while his church was empty, he told them,
“In this time of social distancing, we hold strongly to our faith in Jesus. These special moments are given to us by Him. May this Holy Week be an opportunity for all of us to feel closer to love, peace, and to having hope that we will be better people in the future, who will value and respect each other.”
With his own financial uncertainty, Father Carlos is deeply empathetic to the plight of his parishioners. He works tirelessly to lift their spirits and keep them close to the Church as he shepherds them through this pandemic.
Faith communities like this one in San Juan, Puerto Rico, need your help to continue their life-saving outreach. They cannot do it alone. Express solidarity with impoverished faith communities affected by COVID-19 by giving to our coronavirus response virtual collection basket, praying with and for us and inspiring others by sharing this story.
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