Diocesan News

St. Gerard Majella’s Outdoor Prayer Garden Struck Third Time

The suspect in three nighttime incidents at Shrine Church of St. Gerard Majella stops to take a photo of the statue of Blessed Mother that she failed to knock over on the third night. (Photo: Shrine Church of St. Gerard Majella)

HOLLIS — The suspected vandal, believed to be a woman and to be the same person in all three incidents, tried unsuccessfully to overturn the statue. After several failed attempts, she took a photo before leaving the lot, surveillance footage showed.

Surveillance footage caught the perpetrator first on the night of Sept. 10 tearing down parish signs in the parking lot. When she returned on Sept. 16, the suspect threw away the parish’s rosary stations in the parking lot — a project funded by the parish Generations of Faith appeal — ripped out the parking lot’s sprinkler system and sawed off a section of the railing along the steps that lead into the parking lot.

Father JosephJude Gannon, pastor of the parish, is worried that the attacks are getting worse.

“She now seems to have a pattern and fixation with Mary and with us in particular, but it is something that’s very scary because it does seem to be an escalation going from signs to the rosary icons and then to Mary herself,” Father Gannon said.

The prayer garden in the parking lot is a popular stop for many in the neighborhood, he said.

An employee at nearby All-in-Automotive who wanted to be identified only by his first name, Adam. was disgusted to hear about the third incident.

“He (Father Gannon) really did an excellent job, especially if you would have saw the way it looked before the parking lot, he redid it,” Adam said. “He made a little park for the kids to play out here because there’s really nothing out here for them, and (the perpetrator) is just destroying it.”

Members of the parish said the outdoor prayer garden has become a place many go to pray and families come to play.

“That’s terrible,” parishioner Rose Dunn said of the vandalism. “That’s why I pray to the Lord they catch her.”

The Diocese of Brooklyn said it is working with the New York Police Department on the investigation.

The NYPD Crime Stoppers Bureau is offering a reward of up to $2,500 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the perpetrator. Individuals who have any information should call 800-577-8477.

Emily Drooby of Currents News contributed to this story.