BY BEN VERDE
Houses of worship in Brooklyn and Queens may reopen for private prayer and small ceremonies starting Tuesday May 26, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio announced Friday.
Churches will allow a select number of worshippers with masks to attend prayer services, as well as socially distanced funerals and small weddings or baptism services — all of which will be limited to 10 people, according to the Brooklyn Diocese.
“It has been a challenging few months for Brooklyn and Queens,” Bishop DiMarzio said. “We know many people have eagerly been awaiting the day our churches would open. While we cannot celebrate Mass just yet, it is so important that we can now enter for prayer.”
The announcement comes one day after Gov. Cuomo declared that religious services of 10 or fewer people would be permitted in the state. The number of 10 is particularly important to the Jewish faith because it is the number of people required to have a minyan.
Brooklyn churches will provide ushers to assist with social distancing and the diocese is encouraging the faithful to check with their local parishes beforehand to determine a good time to visit.
Opening for prayer is the first step towards a full reopening of Brooklyn and Queens churches, which have been closed to worshippers since March 20. In the meantime, the faithful are still dispensed from the obligation to attend mass, according to Bishop DiMarzio.
“As we begin the process of reopening our churches, we must understand that we will not be able to resume church life as we enjoyed it before,” DiMarzio said. “There will be a series of changes designed to keep everyone healthy and safe during prayer and worship. I am confident that we will respond, as faithful People of God, to the challenges placed before us.”
Mass is slated to resume once government restrictions lift, the diocese said.
This story first appeared on brooklynpaper.com.