The Tablet Staff
CONEY ISLAND — The NYPD has arrested a man accused of smashing a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe on the property of Shrine Church of Our Lady of Solace last month.
A video released by the NYPD shows the suspect, Daniel Ventre, 37, first standing in front of the Coney Island church talking to another person, and then climbing over a fence, toppling the statue, and then throwing it on the sidewalk.
Ventre, who is a resident of Manhattan, has been charged with criminal mischief.
“I feel terrible because he’s having all these problems,” Father Javier Flores, the administrator of Our Lady of Solace, said Oct. 7 in response to learning of the arrest.
“I know he did something terrible, I understand that. But, stop to think about the life of this person,” he said. “This is going to change everything…but this is justice and we have to accept that, because it’s not about only me and my property, it’s about the people. You can hurt somebody else.”
Parishioners of Shrine Church of Our Lady of Solace were saddened by the destruction of the statue, and since the Sept. 11 incident, the church has been receiving donations from parishioners and church supporters eager to repair or replace the statue, which is valued at $4,000.
The most notable donation to repair or replace the damaged statue — $10,000 — has come from the Knights of Columbus.
Twenty years ago, Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson dedicated the organization to Our Lady of Guadalupe. “News that this depiction of the Blessed Mother was targeted is, therefore, a cause of pain also for us,” he wrote in a letter to Fr. Flores.
Fr. Flores says that donations to replace the statue have poured in from around the country, totaling in over $16,000. “We already requested the new one,” he told The Tablet. On Oct. 6 he received the news that a new statue of the Blessed Mother is in the process of being built. With shopping costs included, it is estimated that the creation and delivery of the new statue will cost about $6,000.
“We’re going to try to see how we can find a protection for her” with the remaining funds, explained Fr. Flores.
As soon as November, the new statue could arrive at Shrine Church of Our Lady of Solace, where the parish will begin preparing the celebration for its consecration. The church aims to have the statue newly erected by Dec. 12, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Our Lady of Guadalupe was named Patroness of the Americas in 1999 by St. John Paul II, is venerated by Mexicans and Latinos.