Just off the corner of 104th Street and 37nd Avenue in Corona, Queens, sits a building with arched wooden doors, tall stained glass windows and concrete crosses attached to the steeples. Leading up to the doors are steps, but no one stops to walk into the church. On the left side of the church people walk in and out of what looks like an alley. A group of preschoolers exit the alley walking hand-in-hand. A woman wearing a veil follows behind them.
Hidden behind the church is a chapel, or as the sign reads “Capilla Los Dolores” (Our Lady of Sorrows Chapel). The chapel is small. No pews, no stage. Just 10 rows of two of chairs, a crucifix, some candles, crosses, and four stained glass windows.
A woman kneels in front of the altar with her hands raised above her head. Eyes closed tightly, she recites something in Spanish. A few rows back, two women in white sit side-by-side. One has a turquoise rosary wrapped around her wrist and the other has it dangling from her hand. The dangling rosary hits the steel chair, making a chiming sound.
On the left side of the chapel sits an older man with a bible on his lap. The chapel is quiet and peaceful. All you hear is a fan, a woman praying, and the page of a Bible being flipped. One woman wipes the side of her cheek, as if she had been crying.
Ding! A bell rings. Ding, ding, ding! The sound grows louder, deeper. Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding! The large bell continues to ring for 20 seconds. Everyone in the chapel stays put. The clock strikes 12 p.m. Some continue praying, while others walk towards the altar, kneel, and leave.
A man walks in steadily, carrying his lunch box. He kneels, crosses his arms, and bows his head. Five minutes later, he grabs his lunch box, makes the sign of the cross, puts some change into the candle box, and leaves. It’s a typical Friday afternoon at Our Lady of Sorrows Chapel in Queens.