Diocesan News

A Statue Outside Queens Church Vandalized; Third Attack on a Church in a Week

The statue of the Virgin Mary has been gracing the garden outside St. Andrew Avellino Church since 1914. (Photo: Courtesy of St. Andrew Avellino Church)

by The Tablet Staff

FLUSHING — Police are investigating a case of vandalism in which someone broke off the hand of a statue of the Blessed Mother outside St. Andrew Avellino Church in Flushing during the overnight hours of Monday into Tuesday, Oct. 30-31.

According to the Diocese of Brooklyn, the vandal entered the church’s Rosary Garden, which faces Northern Boulevard, and severed the statue’s right hand. The vandal then attempted to do the same to the left hand.

The diocese said the incident was not captured on video. The church’s security camera system, damaged in a recent rainstorm, is currently being updated.

The Blessed Mother statue was originally placed in the Rosary Garden in 1914. Diocesan officials said the parish is determined to try to have it restored.

St. Andrew of Avellino Church holds a rosary rally in the garden on the first Saturday of each month and plans to continue this tradition on Saturday, Nov. 4.

“We pray the individual who attacked our beloved statue of Mary in the Rosary Garden has a conversion of heart. The parish will get through this experience, and we are determined to put the Blessed Mother back in her rightful place,” said Father Gregory McIlhenney, the pastor.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477).

The incident came on the heels of two recent acts of vandalism at churches in the diocese.

On Sunday, Oct. 29, a swastika was discovered spray-painted on the front door of St. Charles Borromeo Church in Brooklyn Heights. The church quickly had the Nazi symbol removed. Police are investigating.

And on Oct. 23, St. Joseph Church in Astoria was the target of a would-be burglar. A female suspect attempted to break into the rectory, but was unsuccessful, investigators said.

It marked the third time this year St. Joseph Church has been a target. A suspect broke into the church in June, removed the Holy Eucharist and broke pictures of Pope Francis and Bishop Brennan. The same suspect returned to the church days later and menaced people inside. He was taken into custody by police.