By Tim Harfmann
An individual believed to be a woman dressed in all white, ripped 20 rosary stations from an outdoor shrine at St. Gerard Majella Church, in Bayside, Queens and threw them into the trash.
“Oh, it’s.. it’s a punch in the stomach!” exclaimed Father Joseph Jude Gannon, pastor of the Hollis, Queens church, while showing Currents News the damage.
The individual also broke part of the sprinkler system, and somehow managed to cut part of a metal handrail on the property.
“I would consider it a hate crime. I don’t know what the legal classifications are, but I think it’s a direct attack against Mary and against the parish and against the Church in general,” Fr. Gannon said.
The NYPD is investigating the case. They have yet to determine if the act is considered to be a hate crime.
The Queens priest believes that the church sustained over $10,000 worth of damages.
The rosary stations that were taken had been crafted in Italy, and two years ago had been dedicated in large part thanks to donations from parishioners.
The outdoor shrine was part of the “Generations of Faith” campaign, a major fundraising effort across parishes in Brooklyn and Queens to support the Brooklyn Diocese and its individual churches.
“This is an area that was developed by our people for a very important campaign. And now, we’re going to have to go back to the drawing board and regather all of these again and fix them,” Fr. Gannon explained.
This isn’t the first time the church has been vandalized.
It’s believed the same woman is behind a similar incident last week. Video footage shows the individual ripping a sign off of the gate to the outdoor shrine and tearing signs with the parish’s name from potted plants.
Yet another individual was arrested last year for stealing $4,000 worth of guitars from the church.
Marie Casimir, a parishioner who prays in the outdoor shrine as it’s easier for her mobilized scooter than going into church, was shocked to hear the news.
“That’s not good! Why do they have to do that, you know? That’s wicked! We need peace. Why do you destroy the church?” she asked.
Church property might be destroyed, but the faith of this parish is still in tact.
“Even this morning, parishioners were here praying… crying, but praying;” said Fr. Gannon, “and even though it’s a hard day, we know that we’re resurrection people and Mary is always with us, watching over us in a special way.”