This is Father Tom Leach. I am reaching out to keep you up to date with regard to the coronavirus pandemic and our churches.
As I am sure you have heard that the virus has been spreading in many areas of Brooklyn, and Governor Cuomo has imposed very severe restrictions on certain neighborhoods. Mary Queen of Heaven is in an “orange zone”, which means that right now the maximum number who may attend a Mass is 25 (and that includes the priest-celebrant, deacon, and ushers!) and the maximum number of people who may be present at a non-essential meeting, either indoors or outdoors, is 10! Each day we are found not to be in compliance we will be fined $15,000. So you can see they are taking these restrictions seriously, and so must we.
I am asking for your patience and understanding this weekend and in the days ahead. Since so few people can be admitted into church for Mass, it will be important to arrive early. And remember that it is all right, for the time being, to remain home and watch the Mass on television; the Bishop has lifted our obligation because of the crisis.
Bishop Di Marzio has started a law suit against the State on the grounds that our First Amendment right to religious freedom is being violated in this current lockdown. He has reminded the Governor that Catholic churches like ours have acted upon every suggestion that would insure for our worshippers an environment that would prevent any spreading of the coronavirus. Yet we are being targeted a second time.
We do not expect an immediate response to the lawsuit, and so we will be required to observe the restrictions at least for the Columbus Day weekend, and quite possibly longer.
I join the American Bishops in encouraging you to pray to the Blessed Mother – pray the rosary, asking our patroness to protect this country in these difficult times.
May God bless you.
Thank you for your cooperation.