Bronx religious leaders host candlelight vigil in memory of COVID-19 victims

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Community members of all ages joined in the vigil.
Photo by Dean Moses

Bronx community members held a candlelight vigil on behalf of the lives lost from the COVID-19 virus one month before the one-year anniversary of the pandemic in New York.

Local religious leaders Minister Oswald Denis and Pastor Apostle Allene hosted a candlelight vigil Friday evening outside of the Holy Ghost and Fire Christian Center on 976 Intervale Avenue in the Bronx. From children and the elderly to NYPD officers from 41st Precinct, over a dozen individuals lined up brandishing a flickering flame in honor of all those who have suffered at the invisible hands of the novel coronavirus.          

Pastor Apostle Allene (left) and Minister Oswald Denis (right) lead the gathering in prayer. Photo by Dean Moses

Pastor Allene led the group in prayer while Minster Denis translated it into Spanish. The pair thanked all essential workers for risking their own safety to serve New Yorkers over the course of the 12-month period. They also extended their thoughts to those who are currently grappling with health issues brought about by the virus.   

“We are going to be praying for the victims of COVID, the families who have a loved one who has COVID, we are going to pray for you. Even as we are here today there are families going through COVID. We are going to be praying for all,” said Pastor Allene. 

Prayer was bathed in fire as members of the vigil became emotional. Photo by Dean Moses

Although the vigil began with a relatively small attendance, as the prayers were projected from booming speakers, pedestrians stopped in their tracks and joined in the somber observance. While some grabbed a candle of their own and stood with their heads down in solemn respect, others hopped off their bikes and ignited their lighters in order to show support. One passerby even said her very own prayer in Spanish.

This vigil came on the same day the famous Yankee Stadium was reimagined into a makeshift vaccine hub for Bronx residents. This transformation opened to much fanfare and long, winding lines as those eligible clamored to receive the much sought-after inoculation. But with black and brown communities disproportionately affected by the virus and food insecurity, Minster Oswald told amNewYork Metro that this is not enough.

A man stepped down from his bike and produced a lighter. Photo by Dean Moses

“We are not too happy with the Mayor, we need more vaccinations. We need every clinic to have vaccinations with Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson and Johnson. Mr. Mayor,  please we really need you in the South Bronx,” Oswald said, pleading for more assistance.

Members of the community lined up outside the Holy Ghost and Fire Christian Center on 976 Intervale Avenue. Photo by Dean Moses

Oswald is a COVID-19 survivor. After suffering from an infection with the virus last month, the minister is fully aware of the dangers the coronavirus poses to the human body. It is with this in mind that he both pleads for assistance for his community and hopes to raise awareness of the importance of the vaccines.

“I had COVID-19 back in March and survived. It was horrible, I was frightened. Prayer is important and so is vaccination. It is important that we come together in harmony,” Oswald added.

Attendees shielded their flickering flames from the wind. Photo by Dean Moses

It seemed many members of the community shared this sentiment. Precinct Council President Cedric Simmons and fellow community relations officers from 41st Precinct joined the gathering, not as members of the NYPD, but instead as humans who are hoping for a better future.

Precinct Council President Cedric Simmons joined in prayer. Photo by Dean Moses
Other officers from the 41st precinct also joined. Photo by Dean Moses

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