By Jessica Easthope
Only faint remnants of graffiti are left on a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary that sits outside the entrance of Cathedral Preparatory School and Seminary in Elmhurst, Queens. On July 10, under the cover of darkness, it was vandalized.
“At about 3 o’clock in the morning we saw someone approach the statue and just simply spray painted it as if it was an ordinary thing for them to do and then they walked away,” said Father James Kuroly, who serves as the Rector-President of the school.
When Fr. Kuroly came out, Friday, he saw the word “idol” in thick, black spray paint down the front of the sacred statue.
“The idea of writing ‘idol’ is a kind of accusation against what we believe in, we do not believe that the statue is an idol, but rather an instrument that is used to bring us closer to the Blessed Mother, which in reality brings us closer to Her Son,” Fr. Kuroly explained of Catholicism.
The incident is being investigated by the NYPD as criminal mischief, police are searching for an individual who was completely covered in clothes and wearing a hat. They have not been able to determine if it’s a man or woman, regardless, Fr. Kuroly believes hate motivated the suspect.
“We saw this, really, as a hate crime immediately,” said Fr. Kuroly.
The statue is more than 100-years-old. Father Kuroly says it means so much to the young men of Cathedral Prep, past and present as well as the community it watches over.
“If you just look outside the window there is always someone in front of the statue seeking the intercession of the Blessed Mother, bringing flowers to her and looking to her as the model of discipleship,” said Fr. Kuroly.
Patricia Perez stops by the statue every single day. She says she’s heartbroken over the act of vandalism.
“We all have our own religion and she’s amazing and for me. It was horrible what they did to her, very painful,” Patricia said.
In light of the vandalism, Fr. Kuroly is holding a rededication ceremony for the statue on Thursday, July 16, the Feast Day of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.