Father Jorge Ortiz-Garay, 49, served as pastor of St. Brigid’s Church in Bushwick, as well as the Diocesan coordinator of the Ministry to Mexican Immigrants. He passed away on March 27 at Wyckoff Hospital Medical Center.
He is believed to be the first Catholic priest in the United States to die as a result of COVID-19.
“This is a sad day and a tremendous loss for the Diocese of Brooklyn,” Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio said in a statement. “Father Jorge was a great priest, beloved by the Mexican people and a tireless worker for all of the faithful in Brooklyn and Queens.”
Ortiz-Garay was born in Mexico City in 1970, and was ordained to the priesthood at the Archdiocese of Newark in 2004. He arrived at the Diocese of Brooklyn in 2009, and first ministered at St. Joseph’s in Prospect Heights.
He was installed as the priest at St. Brigid’s this past July.
Ortiz-Garay is survived by his parents, Jorge and Estella Ortiz, as well as siblings, nieces and nephews. A memorial mass will be celebrated at a later date, the diocese said.
An elderly parishioner also passed away from the novel coronavirus last week. The parishioner was last at Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Jamaica on Sunday, March 15, for a 1 p.m. mass.
The diocese also reported seven additional cases of COVID-19 in church communities, including another person who attended mass at the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church on March 15.
Other cases include a parishioner who attended mass at St. Patrick’s Church in Long Island City, a rectory worker at St. Michael’s Church in Sunset Park, a nun who lives in the convent at St. Therese of Lisieux Convent in East Flatbush, and a choir member at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Kensington.
The sister last volunteered at St. Catherine of Genoa-St. Therese of Lisieux Catholic Academy on March 12, while the choir member attended a church fundraising event on March 14 at Brooklyn Prospect Charter School. The choir member also attended mass on March 15.
In Astoria, a rectory employee at Our Lady of Mount Carmel tested positive for the virus. They last worked at the rectory on March 18.
The latest reported case was the children’s choir director at St. Agatha in Sunset Park, who last attended mass on March 14.
The Diocese of Brooklyn cancelled all masses on March 16, and closed all churches and rectories on March 20.