Brooklyn Diocese Churches to Reopen May 26 for Private Prayer and Confession as Part of Phase 1 Plan

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By Jessica Easthope

The unlocking of church doors signifies a new beginning for the faithful in the Brooklyn Diocese.

Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio and the Vicar General’s Office have laid out a multiphase plan for the diocese, hours after Cardinal Timothy Dolan announced his plan for the Archdiocese of New York on May 21.

“We know that Brooklyn and Queens have been some of the most hard hit places so it’s hard to say how quickly we’ll go, we do have the stages when the metrics tell us we can move to another stage we will,” said Bishop DiMarzio.

Unlike the Brooklyn Diocese, there was never a universal closure of churches in the archdiocese. The first phase of reopening in Brooklyn and Queens on May 26 will be for private prayer and confession. Churches will only be open for about four hours a day, and they’ll be reopening on a case-by-case basis. Some will remain closed because they’re not yet ready to begin the process.

“The safety of the faithful and the clergy are paramount in this,” said Joe Esposito, who’s heading the Diocesan Committee on Reopening Churches.

“We think our soft opening on May 26 will be a good sign for the faithful that we’re moving in the right direction,” said Joe.

Parishioners will need to adapt to the changes.

“No mask, you can’t come in, it’s as simple as that,” Joe added.

Social distancing rules will remain in effect in churches, meaning they’ll be able to accomodate significantly less people.

“If the church is at capacity because you have to allow for that social distancing, if there’s an overflow if we reach our maximum, we’ll live stream to an alternate location, like a gymnasium, a school or another part of the church,” said Joe.

Bishop DiMarzio said safety cannot be an afterthought during the reopening, emphasizing again that churches must care for parishioners, body and soul.

“We want to make sure people are very safe when people come back to church,” Bishop DiMarzio said. “We want them to come without any fear and have the proper safety precautions there.”