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Remembering Father Jorge Ortiz-Garay, First U.S. Catholic Priest Lost to Coronavirus

A memorial is growing outside the locked doors of Saint Brigid’s Church in Bushwick, Brooklyn, to honor their beloved pastor, Father Jorge Ortiz-Garay.  

“We’re all sad,” said one parishioner. “Our community is sad.”

Father Jorge is believed to be the first U.S. priest to die from the coronavirus. He was 49 years old.  

The Mexican-born priest was ordained to the Archdiocese of Newark in 2004, and had served the Brooklyn Diocese since 2009.

Auxiliary Bishop Octavio Cisneros was close to Fr. Jorge.

“What a great priest. What a great servant of the Lord. What a great friend,” Bishop Cisneros recalled. 

Fr. Jorge helped Bishop Cisneros create the Mexican ministry in the Brooklyn Diocese, evangelizing to Hispanic Catholics.

Fr. Jorge was also the driving force behind the annual Our Lady of Guadalupe celebration.

The feast day included Mass —  attended by thousands — and a torch-lit pilgrimage through the streets.

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