Every year, through funds donated by parishioners, Father Josephjude Gannon of St. Gerard Majella Roman Catholic Church in Hollis sends a special delivery of Easter hams to the sick and most vulnerable parishioners.
This year, however, is different. Unable to deliver a total of 40 hams without the help of volunteers due to the coronavirus pandemic, Gannon received assistance from Community Affairs Officers from the NYPD 103rd Precinct.
On April 7, the NYPD officers loaded up their cars with 40 Easter hams for delivery. According to Gannon, volunteers would usually deliver to homes or people would come to the church to pick up a ham. This year, he didn’t want to risk anyone becoming sick.
“When the community affairs officer called me and said ‘how can we help?’ they were very happy to do the deliveries,” Gannon said. “A lot of times, unfortunately, the police get a rap of being the bad guys, but they really are helpful and are there to protect and serve. It was a win-win for them to be able to protect and serve the most vulnerable in our community, and so that we can keep people safe as well.”
Although the church is closed, Gannon says, it’s very much open. They have turned to technology and the internet to livestream masses online. Gannon also stays in contact with parishioners every week via phone call, text messaging and Facebook.
“We’re very much in contact but just in a different way,” Gannon said. “We do have some parishioners that are sick, and thankfully some of them have recovered and a couple of them that are ventilators. It’s painful that I can’t physically be there to walk them through this and help them, but I’m there in prayer.”
While there is hardship and a lot of suffering during this time, Gannon is hopeful that everyone will get through the coronavirus pandemic. Overall, for Gannon, it was a true blessing to have the help of the Community Affairs Officers from the NYPD 103rd Precinct.
“They have always been very good to us and the community. They are really showing their true stripes of calling around — I’m sure they’ve called a lot of the parishes. I don’t have any idea how many other groups they’re helping, but we were very lucky to have them.”