Seven months after the first COVID-19 outbreak hit the New York City area last spring, Msgr. David Cassato, the pastor of St. Athanasius Church in Brooklyn celebrated a key milestone, with the parish church and school both open for business.
That hard-won goal consumed an enormous amount of time and money, with $50,000 alone spent on the restructuring of classrooms in compliance with social distancing guidelines.
But after a fresh spike in COVID transmissions in New York City, Brooklyn and Queens in early October, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo imposed new restrictions on Oct. 6, and now St. Athanasius School has closed again, while Sunday Masses are limited to 10 people, including the celebrant.
“It has been a trying time,” said the energetic Msgr. Cassato, who is also the pastor of St. Dominic’s Church in Bensonhurst, and was recently appointed vicar of education for the Diocese of Brooklyn. “People need their church, and the children need their school.”
Cuomo issued his latest executive order in response to new virus “hot spots” around the Empire State, and he designated specific areas as “red,” “orange” or “yellow” zones depending on the density of virus cases or their closeness to a cluster.
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