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Catholic Church, Bellone reach agreement on Suffolk marathon

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone speaks on Thursday,

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone speaks on Thursday, March 26, 2015 in Hauppauge. Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

Bishop William Murphy and County Executive Steve Bellone appeared to have smoothed things over Wednesday -- a day after the Catholic Church complained that the Suffolk County Marathon would prevent some people from attending Sunday Mass.

Bellone and Murphy, head of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, released a joint statement indicating they had the chance to "personally speak with each other" and will collaborate to make sure worshippers get to church, despite the closure of Montauk Highway.

The roadway will be closed on Sunday from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., from Great River to Patchogue.

It's expected that 3,200 runners will compete in full and half marathons in both directions on the roadway. Proceeds from the first-time event will go toward expanding services for veterans and active military personnel living in Suffolk, county officials said.

While Murphy lauded support for veterans in a statement Tuesday, he said "it surprises and dismays me that this road closure seems to have been chosen without any regard for the Christian observance of Sunday Worship."

Murphy said attending Mass would be a challenge at three churches, in Sayville, Blue Point and Patchogue..

The controversy, however, was short-lived, according to Wednesday's announcement.

"After our dialogue, we both have an understanding that appropriate measures are being put in place to make sure that all residents will have the ability to attend their places of worship this Sunday," the statement read. "We have agreed that the Diocese of Rockville Centre will join in Suffolk County's after-action review of the marathon to make sure that any issues that may arise on race day are addressed for future events."

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