The Diocese of Brooklyn stated that Pope Francis sent his condolences to Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio and the families of two priests, Father Jorge Ortiz-Gara and Father Gioacchino Basile, who died due to coronavirus.
Ortiz-Gara, 49, was Pastor of St. Brigid’s Church in Wyckoff Heights, Brooklyn and Diocesan Coordinator of the Ministry to Mexican immigrants. He was the first Catholic priest in the United States to die as a result of COVID-19 on Friday, March 27.
Basile, 60, had been ministering as Pastor of Saint Gabriel Church in the East Elmhurst section of Queens. He was the second priest in the United States to die of coronavirus on Saturday, April 4.
“Timothy Cardinal Dolan, New York’s Archbishop, was speaking to Pope Francis earlier today, and during that conversation, the Holy Father asked the Cardinal to express his condolences to Bishop DiMarzio, the families of the two priests, and the people of the Diocese of Brooklyn over the loss of their two beloved priests,” the Diocese of Brooklyn said in a statement.
“On behalf of the Diocese of Brooklyn, I am humbled to have received prayers and condolences from our Holy Father, Pope Francis, on the deaths of two of our priests who have been lost to coronavirus,” DiMarzio said. “As we continue to mourn the loss of Father Ortiz-Garay and Father Basile, it is comforting to know Pope Francis joins with us in solidarity. We are one church, and together the people of God will get through these most difficult times.”