WINDSOR TERRACE — As police continued to search for the vandal who toppled a 130-year-old statue of the Blessed Mother outside St. Adalbert Church, Elmhurst — leaving it broken in pieces — distraught parishioners have begun raising thousands to repair it.
To date, a Go Fund Me campaign has raised more than $4,000 toward a $5,000 goal.
The attack occurred sometime between the evening of May 27 and the morning of May 28, when the vandal entered a courtyard alongside the church where there are no surveillance cameras and knocked the statue from its pedestal to the ground.
The damage was discovered by St. Adalbert pastor Father Miroslaw Podymniak.
“The pieces were on the ground and I knew someone would have had to push the statue pretty hard because [of] its heavy weight,” Father Podymniak told Currents News. “And it was really upsetting to me because we had the statue for so many years.”
Councilman Robert Holden, who represents the neighborhood, was an altar boy at St. Adalbert Church and was later married there. He’s offering a $500 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the perpetrator.
Calling the attack, “a despicable crime,” Holden posted pictures of the damage on his Twitter and Facebook pages. “No religious symbol should be desecrated in our city,” he wrote.
The attack was the latest disturbing incident of vandalism on property in the Diocese of Brooklyn in recent weeks.
On May 13, a vandal knocked down a crucifix — damaging the cross and the statue of Jesus Christ on it in the process — and tore down and set fire to a nearby American flag outside St. Athanasius Church, Bensonhurst. A suspect, Ali Alaheri, 29, of Brooklyn was arrested on May 21 and charged with criminal mischief as a hate crime.
No arrests have been made in the case of a vandal who beheaded a baby Jesus portion of a statue outside the diocesan chancery on Prospect Park West on May 16.
The statue, which depicts the Blessed Mother holding Jesus in her arms, is located in a small garden area next to the chancery’s front lawn and is not protected by a fence, which gave the vandal easy access.
The incident at St. Adalbert Church is being investigated by the NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force as a possible hate crime. At press time, no arrests had been made.
Just how much the church’s parishioners cherish the venerable statue is evident in the message attached to the Go Fund Me page. “As you walk up to the side of St Adalbert Church this statue of the Blessed Mother is there to greet everyone who enters,” it reads.
For information on how to donate to the statue restoration fund, visit: https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-restore-our-blessed-mother-statue?fbclid=IwAR3EF6KuQRjWP_qFb4KhaeD2VREkyI8az3hxKll3Y-jC7y2hpv6PNPOHTPE