Bay Ridge priest dies after collapse during Sunday services

May 29, 2018 Meaghan McGoldrick
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A local priest of a Bay Ridge church collapsed and died during services Sunday, the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island has confirmed.

Father Tracey Williams of Christ Church, 7301 Ridge Boulevard, died Sunday, May 27, during a visit to another parish on Long Island, a year to the month after the church’s previous pastor, Reverend Father Joel Ireland, was forced to retire because of health issues.

The pastor had only recently moved to Bay Ridge and taken over as a “pinch hitter” for Ireland. Williams, one parishioner said, was to fill in until a new permanent priest could be found.

“Father Tracey was much respected and loved,” Ridge resident Thomas Hilton told this paper, adding that, although Williams had health problems – which, he said, included dialysis three times a week – his death was unexpected.

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Tracey often referred to his health issues, Hilton said, as “his crucifixion, the pain of being repeatedly jabbed often being quite severe. But he remained positive.”

Christ Church acknowledged the pastor’s death in a somber post on Facebook.

“He was a wonderful man, supportive priest, and an extremely valuable member of our community,” it read. “He will, of course, be sorely missed.”

Reverend Canon Patricia Mitchell, canon for pastoral care of the Episcopal Diocese, asked parishioners throughout the diocese – which encompasses Brooklyn, Queens, Nassau and Suffolk – to keep Williams and his loved ones in their prayers.

Information on funeral services is forthcoming from the diocese.

Christ Church’s new priest, Father Lawrence DeLion, is scheduled to begin in late June.

Williams, who grew up in Bed-Stuy and made his commitment to God at the Seabury-Western Theological Seminary, had just celebrated his 22nd year as a priest. He was ordained in March of 1996.

“Always pleasant and positive, he gave meaningful and personal sermons that left an impression,” Hilton said, adding that, with his replacement already slated for June, he had hoped to simply “have him as a neighbor.”


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