Coronavirus Crisis: Masses Continue Despite Church Closures

Tags: Currents, Catholic Church, Coronavirus, Diocese of Brooklyn, Faith, Queens, NY, Technology

By Tim Harfmann

Father Joseph Fonti won’t let the coronavirus crisis get in the way of serving the Lord and His people.

March 22 was the first Sunday the Brooklyn Diocese put public Masses on hold.

Father Fonti was one of many priests celebrating at their parishes — behind closed doors. He live streamed the liturgy on the parish’s website so parishioners could participate.

He compared the experience to attending a prayerful retreat in solitude.

“I would say that’s probably something that has helped give me a little preparation for this and has kept me somewhat sane and stable in the midst of it,” said Father Fonti.

Even though parish life is being disrupted by the outbreak, Father Fonti’s still working hard as pastor of Saint Mel’s Church in Flushing, Queens.

“I keep my routine. I get up at the same hour I would if the church was packed, and I still get dressed as a priest and do my priestly duties.”

That includes celebrating Sunday Mass, which Father Fonti has live streamed more since the outbreak began.

He says the number of Saint Mel’s parishioners now watching is up 1,000 percent since he started the online service in September.

“I actually do feel the love of my people. I get some emails, I get some phone calls after the broadcasts. Many people have called just to check on us.”

It’s a connection growing stronger during this time apart.

“They love us, and we love them. and I think that brings a lot of comfort to the day.”