The Rev. Lawrence Penzes was shot during a 9 a.m. Mass at Our Lady of Peace Church, said Karen Montalbano, a spokeswoman for the Diocese of Rockville Centre, on Long Island.
Penzes, 50, apparently was shot in the back, and a woman in her 70s was shot in the face, Lynbrook Mayor Eugene Scarpato said. A rifle was recovered, but it wasn't clear whether that was the weapon used in the shooting, he said.
Scarpato said the suspect was believed to be holed up in a nearby home.
About 30 to 40 people normally attend the service at the Catholic church, according to a church worker who would not give her name. The woman said Penzes had just finished delivering the homily when he was shot.
Jeanette Stingone, who lives just down the street from the church, said she was leaving for work when a police officer told her to go back into her house.
``I looked outside and there were police with guns drawn,'' she said by telephone. ``Right now they're just kind of out there staring at this one house and they're not letting any of us leave.''
A school adjacent to the church with 400 students in grades 1 through 8 was locked down. Inside the church, several parishioners were being questioned by police, Scarpato said.
The Rockville Centre diocese, which encompasses Nassau and Suffolk counties, is home to 1.5 million Catholics.