After being closed to visitors since the COVID-19 pandemic began, St. Anselm Roman Catholic Church, 356 82nd St., opened its doors to the public on Monday morning for private prayer
The Diocese of Brooklyn announced that churches, which had been closed for more than two months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, were able to reopen for private prayer and devotion starting Tuesday, May 26.
For now, the church will be open Mondays through Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Only 10 people are currently permitted in the church at a time.
John Quaglione, a parishioner and the deputy press secretary for the Diocese of Brooklyn, discussed the importance of opening the Bay Ridge church.
“The reopening of St. Anselm Catholic Church for private prayer and services that adhere to social distancing and capacity guidelines was a major step back to our normal religious life,” he told this paper. “For 10 weeks, the doors of St. Anselm were locked, and for the many people of Bay Ridge who worship here, it surely left a void. During this time of pandemic and unrest, it is so critical that we can return to our beloved St. Anselm to offer prayers for health and peace. We now look forward to the day when we can celebrate Mass while adapting to the new protocols, but primarily focusing on bringing our community of faith back together stronger than ever before.”
Bay Ridge resident Donna Byrnes was thrilled to return to the historic church.
“I attended Saint Anselm grammar school and was devastated when they closed the church,” she said, adding that she attended Mass each morning after dropping off her grandson Bryan at school. “The last St. Anselm Mass I attended was a Dedication Mass I had said for my friend Joanne Amico Pengos, who had recently passed. Who would’ve known that was the last Mass I attended at St Anselm?
“When Monsignor announced that the church would be open, I was overjoyed. I feel so much closer to God when I’m in his church. I get to see the altar again, Jesus on the cross, the saints, although there is no candle lighting or touching the statues.”
According to the church, parishioners must wear masks at all times, use hand sanitizer upon entering the church and social-distance six feet apart. Statues remain off limits and votives must remain off.
“I went to church this past Monday when it opened and also this morning and will continue to go to say a prayer every day Monday through Saturday,” Byrnes said. “St Anselm only has Mass via the internet on Sundays.
Quaglione also set up a Go Fund Me page to benefit the church and help offset its losses during the pandemic. So far, $8,100 has been raised.
To donate, visit https://bit.ly/2Xrinmj.