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Two New York churches suffer over 100 deaths due to COVID-19


kalhh | Pixabay CC0

John Burger - published on 05/13/20 - updated on 05/13/20

A Catholic church in Queens buries 64 people, mostly Hispanic immigrants.

Two churches in New York City serving largely Hispanic populations have lost over 100 parishioners between them to COVID-19.

One of the churches, St. Bartholomew’s Catholic Church in the Elmhurst section of Queens, N.Y., reported 64 deaths to the coronavirus disease. The other, St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in midtown Manhattan, had 40.

New York City has had at least 20,000 deaths due to COVID-19, making it perhaps the hardest hit region in the United States.

The Associated Press reported that many in the two church communities are at risk in two ways. They have jobs classified as essential during the pandemic, at workplaces ranging from hospitals to supermarkets, where exposure to the virus can be higher. And many are undocumented immigrants from various parts of Latin America who are often afraid to go to a doctor or a hospital, fearing that might lead to their deportation.

Fr. Rick Beuther, pastor of St. Bartholomew’s, said Wednesday that the death toll has risen to 64, from the 63 that AP reported,.

“The last eight, 10 weeks has been a real tsunami, a disaster for us here, between sickness, death, unemployment and just lack of services for the undocumented,” Fr. Beuther told AP.

Since the public celebration of Mass has been suspended, Fr. Beuther tries to call dozens of parishioners each day. Like St. Peter’s, St. Bartholomew’s tries to help parishioners with a food assistance program. He told Aleteia that this Friday, in collaboration with Catholic Charities, “we will feed 1,600 families – giving them fresh produce and canned goods (enough food for 5 days).”

“Our parish is large, with a typical Mass attendance of 5,500 on Sunday,” he said. “Now, we show Mass on Facebook live and often times have over 8,000 views.”

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