The Diocese of Brooklyn announced it closed all churches and rectories in Brooklyn and Queens, effective as of noon on March 20, after two priests tested positive for coronavirus. Parish office business will continue by telephone only.
“We want to ensure that there cannot be any more possible exposure to the virus at one of our Churches in Brooklyn and Queens,” said Rev. Nicholas DiMarzio, Bishop of Brooklyn. “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.”
As a result of the closures, funerals, weddings, and baptisms will not be permitted in church, the Diocese announced. 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 at a later date, according to the Diocese. Weddings and baptisms will also be postponed to a later date.
The Diocese said one of the positive cases is a a priest from Sacred Heart of Jesus in Glendale who last celebrated Mass on Sunday, March 15, at 8 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. He also attended the soup supper on Saturday, March 14, in the church’s basement.
A priest at St. Matthew’s Church in Crown Heights, who last celebrated Mass at on Sunday, March 15, 2020, at 11:30 a.m., also tested positive, according to the Diocese.
Both churches and rectories will undergo a deep cleaning and sanitization, with approved disinfectants, following guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Diocese said.
The Sacrament of Reconciliation will be limited to emergencies only, while one-on-one and in-person confession will be observed outside with social distancing measures. Spiritual counseling will be provided over the phone.