New York City, N.Y., Jul 30, 2021 / 11:33 am (CNA).
A Knights of Columbus fundraiser for the replacement of vandalized statues of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Therese of Lisieux at a New York City church has raised over $21,000 as of Friday, July 30.
The statues were smashed July 17 at Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church in Queens by a woman who was seen on security cameras. The vandalism is being investigated by the New York City Police Department Hate Crimes Unit and the 112th Precinct.
“Will you please consider helping us restore these proud symbols of our parish?” Knight of Columbus Brian Allen wrote on a GoFundMe page for the effort.
The two statues had been on display at the parish since 1937.
The fundraiser, launched July 21, is being run by the Our lady of Mercy Knights of Columbus Council and Our Lady of Mercy Academy.
The Our Lady of Mercy Council said that artisans inspecting the damage have determined that the statues are beyond repair and will have to be replaced.
The parish told CNA July 30 that they are collecting the information and estimates they need in order to find the best way to put the new statues in, and how to keep them protected.
The night before the statues were smashed, a perpetrator, who has not been identified, toppled both the statues over, the parish said.
The night of the vandalism, pastor Fr. Frank Schwarz was on his phone with police in response to the incident. The parish said at 3:30 in the morning Monsignor John McGuirl heard the vandalism taking place and yelled at the perpetrator out the window to stop.
The perpetrator “told him in no uncertain terms to shut up.” At that point, the perpetrator was already fleeing the scene and when police arrived, they were gone.
The Diocese of Brooklyn said July 17 that “the statues were dragged 180 feet across 70th Avenue, where they were smashed with a hammer. Earlier this week on Wednesday evening, both of these statues were toppled over but were not damaged. The individual involved in both acts of vandalism is believed to be the same person.”
The parish told CNA on Friday that parishioners were devastated by the vandalism. While waiting for new statues to come to the church, a parishioner had taken the initiative to put a small statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary statue in place of the vandalized statues.
“It is heartbreaking, but sadly it is becoming more and more common these days. I pray that this recent rash of attacks against Catholic churches and all houses of worship will end, and religious tolerance may become more a part of our society,” Fr. Schwarz said in the diocesan statement.