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Beloved Ridge priest dies after mass

Rest in peace: Father Tracey Williams of Christ Church Bay Ridge died of a heart attack on May 27, according to Bishop Provenzano of the Diocese of Long Island.
Tom Hilton

May he rest in peace.

A beloved Bay Ridge priest died of a heart attack after holding mass in Queens on May 27. Rev. Tracey Williams of Christ Church Bay Ridge was a pious man who was new to the neighborhood but quickly grew to love it, according to the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island.

“He was the nicest guy — he was soft-spoken, very pastoral, a good preacher, just a nice guy to be around,” said Bishop Provenzano. “He had just moved to Bay Ridge a week or so before, but he became very attached to Christ Church.”

Williams was ordained as a priest in 1996, and then served as assistant to the rector at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Bedford-Stuyvesant before becoming the rector of St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in the distant borough of Queens in 1997, according to a rep for the Diocese. Williams resigned from St. Matthew’s in 2011 — the year it closed — and then began holding services at other parishes within the diocese, including at Christ Church Bay Ridge, the rep said.

On the day of his death, Williams collapsed in a car outside of the Church of the Resurrection in East Elmhurst, Queens, where he had filled in for a priest who was on vacation, holding mass and attending the coffee hour afterwards, Provenzano said.

“He had gone through with a pretty busy morning,” he said. “The Uber driver said he appeared to pass out in the back seat even before they drove away from the church.”

Emergency medical personnel transported Williams to Elmhurst Hospital, where they tried and failed to revive him. He was 58-years-old, the bishop said.

Provenzano added that Williams enjoyed playing the guitar in between the two or three masses he celebrated every week, and that parishioners would miss his affable manner.

“This was a really good priest — he just was a good guy, people loved him, and it’s really tragic that he died this way,” he said.

Priests from the diocese will fill in for Williams until the new priest, Father Lawrence DeLion, starts on July 1.

Visiting hours for Williams will be held at Christ Church Bay Ridge (7301 Ridge Blvd. at 73rd Street) 10 am–11 am next Wednesday, June 13, and the funeral liturgy will follow, at 11 am. He will be interred following the ceremony at Cypress Hills Cemetery (833 Jamaica Ave. between Euclid Avenue and Crescent Street in Cypress Hills).

Reach reporter Julianne McShane at (718) 260–2523 or by e-mail at jmcshane@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @juliannemcshane.

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