Brooklyn Diocese Parish Communities Confused Over New COVID-19 Restrictions

Tags: Currents Brooklyn, NY, Coronavirus, Faith, Mass, Media, Our Lady of Grace Church, Queens, NY, Sacrament

By Jessica Easthope

Nick DiMola does the same thing every day. Come 8:30 a.m. you know where to find him: in the front left pew of Our Lady of Grace in Gravesend, Brooklyn.

“I don’t think they could stop me even if they locked the doors — I’d say a prayer outside I guess. All my life I’ve been going to church every day, we need it more than ever right now,” he told Currents News.

Just as Catholics like Nick are getting back to church, the threat of closing is once again looming over the Brooklyn Diocese. Parishioners say the way they practice their faith feels like it’s under attack.

“I feel like it’s a persecution. It’s a sacrament — you can’t watch it on TV, you need to receive it. It’s our right to receive the sacrament. We can’t be making these lockdowns and preventing people from practicing their faith in the United States of America, it’s horrible,” said Patricia and John Gallagher, parishioners at Our Lady of Grace.

Church communities are desperate for answers, and pastors are not much more in the know.

“Do everything we ask you to do and still, even after that you can’t worship in church. How sad, how disheartening, what are we supposed to do,” said Father Vincent Chirichella, the Pastor of Our Lady of Grace during his homily Oct. 7.

Father Vincent says state and city leaders are sending mixed messages.

“It’s illogical what they’re doing. If social distancing, masks and hand sanitizing are the things that are supposed to keep us safe and we’re doing it, why are we limiting it to 10 people,” he said.

The confusion surrounding the changes swirled throughout the diocese on Wednesday.

“10 maximum or 25 percent which didn’t make any sense to me which is a very confusing thing for us,” said Father David Dettmer, pastor of St. Edmund’s Church in Sheepshead Bay.

Father David says he’s frustrated knowing his church will once again see attendance go down. But it’s more than just wanting parishioners to come worship, for some churches, the future depends on it.

“It will also affect us financially, because it will affect the collection and that will affect the parish,” said Father Vincent.

As “Red Zone” parishes wait for further instruction, Catholics are again forced to imagine life without church and wonder what more could have been done.