St. Mary’s Winfield Church Moves Forward with Repairs After Tropical Storm Ida Devastation

Tags: Currents Brooklyn, NY, Faith, Flooding, Hurricane Ida, Media, Queens, NY

By Jessica Easthope

Always forward, never back – that’s the slogan St. Mary’s Winfield adopted at the beginning of the pandemic to help parishioners pull through. But in recent months, it’s taken on a new meaning.

“I had this whole plan for this year to really get people back to church,” said pastor, Father Christopher O’Connor. “Trying to reengage with parishioners, reach out to the youth more and Sept. 1st came and it was just a nightmare.”

During Tropical Storm Ida, water surged into the lower church reaching more than 10 feet.

“The space was destroyed and it was traumatic because I realized when I was standing in front of the boiler trying to catch the water in garbage cans, if I had been there 15 minutes earlier, I wouldn’t be here talking to you,” Father O’Connor said.

Since then, St. Mary’s, like many of its parishioners in Woodside, Queens, has had to pick up the pieces and really drill down into starting over.

Where there were walls – now just wooden frames. The electrical system was ruined and the floor is all that’s left of the church’s brand-new adoration chapel. Father O’Connor says the church has shelled out $264,000 in repairs.

Parishioners have donated more than $100,000 to help and on Wednesday, Nov. 17, the church received an insurance check for $250,000. But the work is far from over. Father O’Connor estimates repairs will reach $1 million dollars.

“People have been extremely supportive financially with encouraging notes, emails,” he said. “They love their church and they want to see their church taken care of.”

And even as bad as the damage is, Father O’Connor knows the church is better off than some parishioners. He’s offered help to those affected and is leaving the rest up to God.

“It’s in his hands anyway. I wasn’t going to let COVID define us and I’m not going to let the flood define us either. We’re going to come out of this better and stronger,” said Father O’Connor.

He’s reminding himself and his parishioners – always forward, never back.

If you would like to help St. Mary’s Winfield rebuild, you can text “Ida Flood” to 308-300-4848 or go to the website: and click the link.