Brooklynites hold vigil for COVID-19 victims in Gravesend

A Gravesend vigil honoring coronavirus victims drew about 100 mourners on Sunday.
Reyna Gobel

Mourners gathered in Gravesend on July 19 for a vigil honoring locals who have been lost to COVID-19.

The interfaith event — held outside the Church of Saints Simon and Jude on Van Sicklen Street by Avenue T — drew more than 100 community members who lit candles, said prayers, and spoke in honor of their lost friends and family members. 

The vigil, which was organized by District 47 Council candidate Steven Patzer, particularly honored local shop owner Joseph Sanfratello, known as Joe Pisa, who owned the Pisa Pork Store in Gravesend. Several generations of Sanfratello’s family paid their respects to the venerated local who died of the novel coronavirus, and donned shirts that said, “In memory of Joe Pisa” at the event. 

Joseph “Joe Pisa” Sanfratello, who owned Gravesend meat shop Pisa Pork Store, recently died of COVID-19.Courtesy of Reyna Gobel

A rabbi, a pastor, and an imam led prayers and spoke to the grieving families at the event, and shared their faith’s perspectives on grief. After the event, one leader said that all faiths must come together to heel as southern Brooklyn reels from the virus. 

“We have many differences, but we can all agree on one reality. And that is, death,” said Iman Adnan Uddin. “It is unity and faith in God that can assist us in overcoming the hard times we are in. I was proud to stand with a diverse group of leaders bringing our community together.”

Nearly 5,033 people in Brooklyn have died from the virus as of July 21, according to state data — the second highest number of fatalities in any county in the state after Queens. 

Patzer plans to hold another vigil for coronavirus victims in Coney Island on Sunday, July 26 at 6:30 pm in the parking lot of the Coney Island Memorial Chapel at 2009 Mermaid Avenue by W. 20th Street.