By Emily Drooby
It was the homecoming many have been dreaming of as Sunday Mass resumed in the Diocese of Brooklyn. Saint Sebastian Church in Woodside, Queens was open and parishioners like Marilyn Mubarak were thrilled.
“To feel the vibration of the people, to feel the joy of the music, to feel the priest in persona Christi, it’s amazing,” said Marilyn.
For the first time in months, parishioners were able to receive the body of Christ and pray together as a church community. It was a beacon of hope amid so much loss.
“We know that a lot of our faithful have lost loved ones whether here, or back home in their countries so it’s been tough, it’s been tough,” said Father Henry Torres, the church’s parochial vicar.
Church staff estimates about 50 parishioners died from the virus — many others were sick.
Parishioner Nicky Torres managed to stay healthy despite working at a hospital. Now he’s thanking God.
“All the essential workers, all the health care workers, all the first responders, the Holy Spirit was just in us, with us,” he explained.
With the virus still looming, special measures were in place inside the church to keep people safe. The pews were taped off, the collections baskets didn’t move, and the pastor read safety instructions for communion.
Saint Sebastian Church had another addition unique to their parish: a new pastor, Father Patrick West, who joined the church family on June 30.
“It’s exciting,” said Fr. West. “We exist to celebrate our faith with people and to share our faith with people.”
The celebration of the Sunday liturgy resumed with the vigil Mass on Saturday July, 4. Every church has their own schedule and reopening date, so it’s important that parishioners check with their parish.