Manorville shrine provides space for peace with houses of worship closed

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With houses of worship closed across Long Island, some are turning to different venues to practice their faith.

For decades, visitors have come to the sprawling Shrine of Our Lady of the Island in Manorville for some peace, solitude and spiritual fulfillment.

"I just find it comforting to walk here," says Keith Malsky, of Manorville. "It's very quiet and you kind of end up just talking out loud to yourself and talking to God."

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It is free and open to the public, and it offers a space where visitors can walk around the sprawling, wooded grounds.

The number of visitors has grown quite a bit within the last few weeks due to the coronavirus and the subsequent closing of houses of worship.

"People are stressed and need to come out and breathe some air and come and say some prayers. That's what we're here for," say Father Roy Tvrdik.

But even with the increase in visitors, the pandemic is costing them money. Shrine of Our Lady of the Island relies 100% on donations, but its gift shop and coffee shop is closed. Its biggest hit will be on Good Friday, when up to 10,000 people typically visit -- the event has been canceled.

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With many turning to the shrine as a place of comfort, those coming out just hope they manage to stay open.

"I'm not a church advocate where I'm going every week, but this is some place I can go openly and pray and be alone with myself," says Mary Ann Gannone, of Manorville. "And being with everything happening, it's something that can't stop you with everything going on."

In the meantime, The shrine has an online mass through its Facebook page every morning at 11:30 a.m.

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