By Jessica Easthope
As attacks on faith across the city become increasingly common, for Queens Councilman Robert Holden: it’s personal.
“This is an attack not only on the Catholic church, the symbols, the Blessed Mother, but it’s an attack on my past, my foundation, the place where I got all my values,” Councilman Holden said.
Before Councilman Holden was married at St. Adalbert’s in 1973, he was a student and an altar boy. Now he’s offering up money in the hope of catching the person who toppled a statue of Mary.
“We have to find who did this and stop them because they may be doing it other places,” he said. “This kind of vandalism, we’re not going to tolerate this kind of behavior in New York City or anywhere else.”
Some time between the evening of May 27 and the morning of May 28, someone came through the gate in the back of St. Adalbert’s and threw this statue to the ground. The result? The statue of the Blessed Mother was broken into pieces.
Father Miroslaw Podymniak, pastor of the church, says the statue likely predates the church building itself, going back nearly 130 years.
“The pieces were on the ground and I knew someone would have had to push the statue pretty hard because it’s heavy weight and it was really upsetting to me because we had the statue for so many years,” Father Podymniak said.
The statue is admired by so many parishioners, but in the wake of the vandalism, members of the church community are turning the other cheek.
“I really feel so sad and I pray for him and I ask God that he or she may be enlightened, believe in God, whatever he did I can say ‘May God bless him even though he did this,’” said Lorna Desepeda, a parishioner at the church for more than 15 years.
Father Podymniak said what surprised him most wasn’t the act of vandalism, but an act of kindness and faith that came after it.
“One of the police officers, he offered help and he will bring a professional contractor to have a look and have this fixed free of charge, for which we are very grateful,” he said. “He came to me and he said ‘father, I will take care of this,’” he said.
Father Podymniak said that officer is expected to bring the contractor over in the next few days. As of now, no arrests have been made and the incident is under investigation by the NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force.