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Inside New York’s Latino congregations, united in grief

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Rev. Joseph Dutan, 32, prepares for a virtual Sunday Mass from St. Brigid Church in the Brooklyn borough of New York, April 19, 2020. Over the past month, Rev. Dutan has lost his mentor and fellow priest, as well as his father, to the coronavirus. – AP Photo / Jessie Wardarski

New York-based staffers Luis Andres Henao, religion team journalist; David Crary, national writer; Jessie Wardarski, religion team video journalist and photographer John Minchillo produced an important collection of three multiformat stories bringing to light the decimation occurring in the city’s Hispanic population, and especially the vibrant undocumented immigrant community that is among the most religious – but also the hardest hit segment during the pandemic.

They first told the story of two congregations united in grief: Between them, the two New York churches have lost more than 100 members to the virus, and because of lockdown rules, they lack even the ability to mourn together. And then the team took a poignant look at a Hispanic priest who has endured the loss of his mentor, father and congregation members. Rev. Joseph Dutan allowed them to live his life even as it grew darker with the news of his father’s hospitalization, a hint at a recovery and then shocking death.

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