Pews much emptier than before the storm with many residents still displaced.
Mass at the church of St. Thomas More in Breezy Point, Queens seems to be running normally since Superstorm Sandy. But the pews are emptier than they were before the storm.
There used to be as many as 1,000 parishioners that would attend mass, but today there are roughly 300. Parishioner Marianna Aalbue says Sandy uprooted the lives of many of her neighbors.
“They are displaced. They are not here. They don’t live here. A lot of the people are not even close to here. It’s not like they are right over the bridge. They are hours away some people.”
The decline in attendance has taken a financial toll on the church. But Pastor Michael Curran says he is thankful for the support they are getting.
“Certainly we saw a decline in the parish income though the collections which we use to pay the bills and to pay our staff. I have to take my hat off to our parish staff, many of which are helping us out while technically being laid off. So it’s really a labor of love for them.”
Pastor Curran is optimistic about the churches future. He sees displaced residents slowly coming back to Breezy Point and hopes this experience gives people a deeper sense of family and belonging.