For the past three Sundays, more than ten cars have lined up in front of the Church of the Intercessor in Malverne. Inside, families and parishioners live-stream Sunday service. When the webcast ends, Father Brett steps outside, and delivers curbside communion car by car. He holds the golden cup with clear rubber gloves, and offers the wafer as cars drive up and the passengers extend their cupped hands to receive it. This has been the new Sunday routine to comply with New York State Gov. Cuomo’s statewide ban on social gatherings.
The drive-through Eucharist is one of the biggest attractions to the church. When giving the sacramental bread to each parishioner, Priests have to maintain the six-foot distance rule.
“When I drive up, I put my arm out the window and he stands at the distance of my hand,” Tony Della Rocca, a member of the Church of the Intercessor, said. “So there are at least six feet between him and myself. Secondly, he has gloves on and when he places the Eucharist in my hand, it does not actually touch my hand.”
Although 800 churches on Long Island remain closed due to COVID-19, Church of the Intercessor is one of the few that continues to connect with its parishioners through live-streaming their services. The church also plans to remain active on their live stream for Easter Sunday.
“We’ve been getting great feedback and our parishioners love the fact that they can still engage through live-streaming,” Father Brett, a priest at Church of the Intercessor, said.
The church’s live streams are in high demand as they receive hundreds of views during their Sunday service, resulting in some technical issues. To work around this, the Church of the Intercessor has decided to pre-record the services, the night before.
“Yeah, I mean we’ve had some connection issues, but I think everyone has because of the overload on Sunday,” Aaron Tyler, a member of the Church of the Intercessor, said, “I don’t think we’re at the best capacity quite yet, but we’re working towards that point.”
Though the church is doing all it can to connect with its community, members feel the closing has affected them profoundly as they are no longer able to converse and celebrate their faith with each other.
“Closing the church affected me very deeply and I’m very sad over it,” Lisa Marone Casatelli, a member of the church, said. “I’ve been going there since December 2015. I’ve made many friends there and I adore my Pastors and Deacons.”
There are about 600 members at the Church of the Intercessor, some of whom have been attending services for numerous years. Parishioners have said it feels more like a family.
“I’ve been attending Church of the Intercessor since 2017,” Sabrina Spitz, a member of the church, said.
In spite of the closings, members have a positive outlook on COVID-19 and the church’s future. They are using their faith to help them through the crisis and remain hopeful that the pandemic will come to an end soon.
“He’s got it,” Rocca said. “The big guy upstairs-he’s got it and he’s got me. Everything happens for a reason. I’m just so grateful that I have a job to go to and I’m able to get out of the house and continue some type of normalcy, you know?”