coronavirus

Brooklyn, Queens Churches Reopen Today for Prayer, Some Will Remain Closed

Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio is offering guidance to church pastors on how and when to reopen. Not all churches in the diocese are opening today. (File Photo)

WINDSOR TERRACE — The Diocese of Brooklyn is taking its first steps toward a return to normalcy during the pandemic.

Churches in Brooklyn and Queens can start reopening today, but with limitations. The announcement made on May 22 by Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, outlined the parameters under which the churches will be reopening.

The churches are allowed to open for private prayer, funerals, and limited baptisms and weddings attended by no more than 10 people.

Pastors who do not believe their parishes are ready to reopen are not bound to do, according to the announcement. According to the diocese, 39 churches will not be reopening today.

Opening church doors for private prayer and devotion is the first step in the diocese’s three-step process toward a full reopening. The second step will allow for daily masses to be celebrated, with the third and final step seeing churches reopen for Sunday masses.

The dates for the second and third steps have not been announced. Churches in the diocese have been closed since March 20.

“It has been a challenging few months for Catholics in Brooklyn and Queens,” Bishop DiMarzio said in a statement. “We know many people have eagerly been awaiting the day our churches would open. … While we cannot celebrate the Mass just yet, it is so important that we can now enter for prayer,” the bishop added.

Strict rules are in place, according to a letter sent to church pastors from the Office of the Vicar General last week

Face masks are required to enter a church and only one door will be used for entering, with other doors available for exit in case of emergencies. Entry will be limited to 10 people and everyone inside the church must maintain social distancing and stay at least six feet apart.  Ushers or volunteers will be present to assist parishioners with maintaining social-distancing rules.

Parishioners will also be instructed not to touch statues and hymnals will be removed from the pews to prevent people from touching them.

Bishop DiMarzio’s decision followed an announcement made on May 21 by Cardinal Timothy Dolan, leader of the Archdiocese of New York, that churches in the archdiocese would now begin the process toward a full reopening. Cardinal Dolan did not issue a blanket decision to close all churches during the pandemic and many have remained open over the past few months for private prayer.

Earlier this month, Bishop DiMarzio formed a special committee to help him develop a roadmap detailing how churches could reopen in a way that was safe for parishioners and priests.

Bishop DiMarzio asked Joseph Esposito, the former commissioner of the city’s Office of Emergency Management, to chair the committee.

The committee’s main goal is to work with the bishop to ensure that churches can reopen in a manner that is safe for parishioners and priests, said Esposito.

“In my nearly 50 years of service to the city, this is one of the hardest issues I have had to deal with,” Esposito said. “The risks are great which is why we have to get things right the first time.”

Here is a list of the churches that will not be reopening today:

  1. American Martyrs
  2. Our Lady of the Cenacle 
  3. St. Rite
  4. Our Lady of Hope
  5. St. Anselm 
  6. St. Brigid
  7. St. Joan of Arc
  8. St. Saviour
  9. Good Shepherd
  10. St. Columba
  11. St. Augustine
  12. St. Francis Xavier
  13. Our Lady of Presentation
  14. Our Lady of Mercy 
  15. St. Leo’s
  16. St. Gabriel
  17. Holy Family
  18. St. Thomas Aquinas
  19. Queen of Peace
  20. St. Thomas More
  21. St. Genevieve
  22. St. Edmund
  23. Immaculate Conception Astoria
  24. St. John the Evangelist
  25. St. Rocco
  26. St. Mary’s Nativity
  27. St. Ann
  28. St. Mary Star of the Sea
  29. St. Bonaventure
  30. St. Benedict the Moor
  31. St. Sebastian 
  32. Incarnation
  33. St. Gabriel
  34. St. John Cantius
  35. Resurrection Ascension
  36. Our Lady of Lourdes
  37. Our Lady of Snows
  38. Cathedral Basilica St. James
  39. Sacred Heart of Jesus
  40. Our Lady of Sorrows

To read the latest updates regarding coronavirus concerns in the Brooklyn Diocese, go to https://thetablet.org/coronavirus.

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