Here’s a really good piece in The New York Times — kudos to photojournalist James Estrin! — about Brooklyn’s own Father Peter Purpura:
The Rev. Peter Purpura walked slowly down the middle of a street lined with brick rowhouses in Middle Village, Queens. He wore a black cassock, white vestments and a light blue surgical mask as he led a procession.
Every few houses a family waited outside in their compact front yard, many standing next to makeshift altars adorned with flowers, candles and religious statues. Father Purpura stopped at each house, saying blessings and offering prayers.
It was Sunday morning, and in more normal times Father Purpura would have been presiding over crowded services at Our Lady of Hope Church. Since coronavirus restrictions forced him to close the church doors in March, he had been celebrating mass in an empty chapel, streaming it live on Facebook. But after his own bout with the coronavirus, he decided to meet his parishioners where they are — at home.
Father Purpura stopped in front of a brick home and greeted Alessia, 8, who was supposed to receive her first holy communion at the church this week. Instead, her rosary beads lay on a table set up by her parents, flanked by tulips. Father Purpura and Deacon Robert Lavanco joined Alessia and her family in reciting the Our Father and Hail Mary prayers.
At another house an older woman pleaded with the priest to give a blessing to her husband, who was very sick and could not come to the door. Father Purpura obliged, ducking inside.
Many of the hundreds of parishioners who have come out to greet Father Purpura have been deeply affected by the coronavirus as it ravaged New York City. Some have lost their jobs as businesses closed and have been mostly stuck inside their homes for weeks. Others have risked their lives working as essential personnel. Middle Village, where most of his flock lives, is near Corona, Queens, one of the hardest-hit areas of the city.
“At this point everyone here is connected to someone who has been sick or has died,” said Father Purpura, 38. He estimates that at least two dozen of his parishioners have died from the virus. “I really do believe that this procession is a source of hope for people.”
Check out the additional pictures, too.