New Amazon Headquarters Could Affect Evangelization

Tags: Currents Evangelization, Faith, Queens, NY

By Tim Harfmann

Amazon plans to create 25,000 jobs when the shipping giant builds its new headquarters in Long Island City, Queens.

The announcement is on Giovanna Varlese’s mind. She grew up in Long Island City and is a parishioner at St. Mary Church, which is located blocks away from where Amazon will develop. “Amazon coming could be good. It could be bad. Nobody ever knows. The future will let us know,” said Varlese.

Long Island City is already an up-and-coming-area.

Varlese has volunteered outside of church, evangelizing with new residents by passing out bulletins. “They take the bulletin, open it, and they start saying, ‘okay, this sounds interesting. Let me come by and check it out,” said Varlese.

She said those efforts have increased Mass attendance. A book in the front of the church is proof. It’s filled with prayer intentions from Catholics and non-Catholics alike. “We have people from everywhere coming in. Our parish, sort of, became ‘on the map,” said Varlese.

Now, the neighborhood is on the global map thanks to Amazon. Though the company’s main headquarters is in Seattle, it will split its second headquarters between Arlington, Virginia and Long Island City. But not everyone is happy about it. “If you look around, there’s like 20 buildings being built in this area. And they’re all luxury buildings,” said Francisco. He works in the Queens neighborhood. “There’s a lot that’s happening here already. There are other parts of the country that don’t, necessarily, have as many opportunities,” said Brie Arthur, who was visiting Long Island City.

About 80,000 residents live in the neighborhood. That’s a 21 percent jump from five years ago, according to Long Island City Partnership, a local development group. The population is expected to surpass 100,000 by 2021. Though not every Amazon employee is expected to live in Long Island City, it will create more traffic.

But Varlese said Amazon may be able to deliver. “It could be good. We’ll have more people and, hopefully, they’ll join us at the parish.”

Prime real estate that could evangelize the faith.