by The Tablet Staff
PROSPECT HEIGHTS — On Saturday, July 8, parishioners at Resurrection Church in Gerritsen Beach, Brooklyn, caught a man spray painting a statue of Mary and handed him over to police, diocese officials said.
Jonathan Bulik, 37, of Brooklyn was arrested at 11:30 a.m. for desecrating a new statue of Mary at Resurrection Church, Stephan Memory, a police spokesman said Monday. It is located on Gerritsen Avenue.
Two parishioners driving by saw the man spray painting the statue and grabbed him, diocese officials said. Officers from the 61st Precinct responded. The man was charged with criminal mischief as a hate crime, and then taken to a local hospital for observation, said Officer Taylor Cannon, a police spokeswoman.
The white marble statue is part of a new shrine to Mary at the southeast Brooklyn church. It replaced another statue that had been destroyed by a vandal, said Father William With, the parish’s recently retired pastor.
In the latest vandalism attack at Resurrection, black paint covered the face of the new white marble statue, and lines were drawn down and across it. Its shoulders and hands also had black paint on them. In addition, the word “fake” appears to be spray painted on the statue.
“This vile disrespect for the statue of Mary on church grounds is disturbing,” Father With said.
He added that the community had rallied together, raising the funds to replace the previous vandalized statue.
“To see this act of hate on display will be most upsetting to parishioners who recently dedicated this new statue,” Father With said.
In another incident, a man suspected of desecrating St. Joseph Church in Astoria a month ago was arrested Saturday, after returning to the parish and acting erratically.
The suspect, who NYPD alleged desecrated St. Joseph’s parish on June 5, also made a commotion when he returned to the church on Saturday. The church is on 30th Avenue in Astoria.
“The man entered the sanctuary acting erratically, disturbing the youth choir practice, and frightening the children,” diocese officials said. “Police officers from the 114th Precinct responded within minutes.
The church was not damaged, and no one was injured, diocese officials said.
However, police arrested the 21-year-old man at about 2 p.m. Saturday on a charge of criminal mischief for the first incident at the church a month ago, said Officer Cannon.
No other information was available Monday, police said.
The suspect was not arrested then, but was taken to a local hospital for observation.
According to reports a month ago, a priest discovered the same man on June 5 in the parish sacristy hitting himself in the head with a monstrance used to display the Blessed Sacrament.
The man was bleeding on the monstrance and priestly vestments he donned while in the sacristy.
Officials believe he broke open the tabernacle, removed the consecrated Eucharist stored inside, and flung it. He also shattered framed portraits of Pope Francis and Bishop Robert Brennan.
Diocese officials said they believed he entered through a door that was unlocked for open access to eucharistic adoration. Two days later, Bishop Brennan reconsecrated the church by leading the parish in prayers. He blessed the altar, the prayer chapel, the walls, and the faithful with holy water.