Father Jorge Ortiz-Garay from Saint Brigid’s Parish of the Diocese of Brooklyn in New York is the first Catholic priest in the United States known to die from COVID-19.

Last Tuesday on March 24th, the Diocese of Brooklyn said Father Jorge had contracted the coronavirus and was “under observation in the hospital,” requesting prayers “for his speedy recovery.”

Just three days later on Friday, March 27th, the Diocese announced Father Jorge had passed that evening “at Wyckoff Hospital Medical Center in Brooklyn from complications related to the coronavirus.” Bishop Nicholas Anthony DiMarzio of Brooklyn said:

“This is a sad day and a tremendous loss for the Diocese of Brooklyn. Father Jorge was a great priest, beloved by the Mexican people and a tireless worker for all of the faithful in Brooklyn and Queens.”

Saint Brigid’s Parish also announced his passing on their Facebook page:

“With a very sad heart, we inform you of the death of our dearest pastor, Father Jorge Ortiz Garay. We ask for your prayers for his eternal rest. We also ask you in a special way to pray for his parents, siblings, nieces and nephews who have lost a very special and loved person by his family, our community and many people around the country.” 

Father Jorge, 49, was born in Mexico City on October 16th in 1970. In 2004, he was ordained to the priesthood as a member of The Way at the Archdiocese of Newark in New Jersey. In 2014, he began serving as administrator at Saint Brigid’s Parish and in 2019 was officially made pastor.

Father Jorge will be buried in his homeland, said Father Jamie Gigantiello, Vicar of Development for the Diocese of Brooklyn: “He was born in Mexico City and he’s going to be flown back there.”

“He went into the hospital Monday. He was at Wyckoff Hospital. I believe he did have an underlying condition. He was a nice guy, always upbeat. He did a lot for Catholic schools. He always supported our Futures in Education fundraisers.”

You can read the statement from the Diocese of Brooklyn on Father Jorge’s passing here. You can watch Bishop DiMarzio’s video statement below:

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