By Emily Drooby
Parishioner Raul Mejia, saddened to hear about vandalism at St. Thomas Aquinas church “Well I feel very upset, I don’t think people should do that. People should have respect for the faith of other people.”
Mejia, who is Ecuadorian, came to St. Thomas Aquinas church in Park Slope on this afternoon to pray, an activity he does often. This time something was missing, the statue of Our Lady of Cisne, the patroness of the Loja province of Ecuador.
Mejia said, “As an Ecuadorian a lot of people are very upset especially the Ecuadorian community, it’s not nice, at all.”
On Wednesday the statue was stolen from the church. Surveillance video showed an unidentified man wearing a hoodie sweatshirt walk into the church, pick up the statue and walk out. Not realizing at first that it had been stolen church employees and Father Willy Kingsley began to search for it. Eventually it was found in the trash can across the street.
The statue sustained substantial damage to the left side – but Father Kingsley says it’s not just about the physical damage to the statue, it’s about what the actions say. He explained, “Having her placed in a garbage can is an insult, it’s not really something we can be proud of as a people, as a community. And so, it was quite distressing.”
This is the second time this statue was stolen and thrown in the same trash can, the first time it was found quickly and not reported. Father Kingsley further explaining the importance of Our Lady of Cisne.
Father Kingsley, said, “Our Lady Of Cisne, represents a lot for Ecuadorians, it’s just really part of who they are its part of their faith, in this particular parish we have a group that has a weekly devotion to our lady.”
The NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating the incident, no one has been arrested and the statue is being kept in the rectory for now.
Father Kingsley said he’s very grateful to the NYPD for being helpful, and continuing to check up on the church.