What was lost has now been found!
A statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus that was displayed for the past four years outside the rectory at SS. Peter and Paul, Williamsburg, disappeared shortly after midnight on April 30. Tape from the parish’s surveillance cameras showed three young people running off with the sacred item.
We now know that the robbers carried the statue only for another block and then dumped it into a trash can outside a house on South Third St., between Bedford Ave. and Berry St. It was found by a man named Gabriel who, not knowing the origin of the item, gave it to his mother, a religious woman to keep it in her apartment.
A few days later, when the statue was not showing up, the parish decided to try the media route to recovery. Perhaps someone would recognize the perpetrators and call in some tips about where it could be found. A press conference was held at the rectory with Mother Bendita Diez explaining to the press the loss to the community.
“The statue is very valuable to us,” she said. “Not in riches but in what it means. People would come by and pray before it.”
She described viewing the theft on video as “intense.”
“It represents Jesus Christ, our Savior,” she added.
Walenska Soto, who works at the rectory, said that when she saw the empty pedestal, she first thought the statue had been taken away as part of the major renovations that are taking place at the parish.
“We want the statue back,” she said.
When Gabriel’s mother saw the story on the TV news and realized that the statue was sitting in her apartment, she immediately returned it to the parish.
The base of the statue as well as the statue’s right hand were damaged. D’Ambrosio Ecclesiastical Art Studios, Inc. has volunteered to restore the statue as well as donate a bigger, heavier version. The larger statue will go outside the rectory in the stolen statue’s place, while the recovered statue will go inside the parish’s new church that is expected to be complete in 2019.
Mother Bendita assures everyone that the new statue will be better protected so that another theft will not as easily take place. On the block, a visibly upset neighbor complained about the gentrification of the neighborhood. While some people say it has been for the economic betterment of the area, this lady said it has brought too many young people drinking and carousing on the weekends.
The stolen statue was donated by George and Kathleen Damerel, from Old Bridge, New Jersey. It was an heirloom they say was in their family for about 100 years. It was donated to SS. Peter and Paul in 2012 to replace a similar statue that also was stolen from outside church property.
The crime has been reported to the local police, who continue to look for the thieves.