FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 20, 2020
Diocese of Brooklyn Churches and Rectories Closed
Two priests test positive for Coronavirus
The Diocese of Brooklyn has closed all churches in Brooklyn and Queens effective Noon today, Friday, March 20, 2020. The decision was made so to prevent the ever-present possibility of the virus spreading. All rectories were also closed for business today at noon, and parish office business will continue by telephone only.
As a result of the closures, funerals, weddings, and baptisms will not be permitted in church. This is because limiting them to 10 people is proving not to be feasible. Graveside services outdoors will be permitted, maintaining the recommendations of the CDC regarding social distancing and at the discretion of the cemetery administration. A memorial Mass for the deceased can be celebrated later. Weddings and baptisms will be postponed to a later date.
“We want to ensure that there cannot be any more possible exposure to the virus at one of our Churches in Brooklyn and Queens. This was not an easy decision to make, however, the safety of our parishioners and our priests, deacons, and religious and parish staff weigh heavily on my mind. Already, we have received word that two of our priests have tested positive. With the celebration of Masses on NET-TV in different languages and live-streamed on our website (dioceseofbrooklyn.org/masses)
One priest with a confirmed case of Coronavirus is from Sacred Heart of Jesus in Glendale, Queens. He last celebrated Mass on Sunday, March 15 at 8 am and 11:30 am. He was also at the soup supper on Saturday, March 14 in the church basement. The other priest with Coronavirus celebrated Mass at St. Matthew’s Church in Crown Heights, Brooklyn on Sunday, March 15, 2020, at 11:30 am. Both churches and rectories now will undergo a deep cleaning and sanitization, with approved disinfectants, following guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Sacrament of Reconciliation will be limited to emergencies only, and while it is necessary for the confession to be one-on-one and in-person, social distancing measures will be observed. A Confession could be held outdoors during this time so that the priest and penitent can be at some distance from each other. Spiritual counseling will be provided over the phone.
The Diocese is committed to serving the faithful in Brooklyn and Queens during this difficult time. While contact in person is limited at this time, the pastors and priests at our parishes are available by phone and via social media to help the faithful get through this trying time.