Vandal Desecrates Blessed Sacrament at St. Joseph’s Church in Astoria

Tags: Currents CRIME, Faith, Media, NYPD, Queens, NY, Vandalism

By Jessica Easthope

The pastor at St. Joseph’s Church in Astoria, Queens says an emotionally disturbed man gained access through a door that is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day for people who want to be in adoration in front of the Blessed Sacrament, but he says that man only wanted to do harm.

Marlene Kaselis can’t get into her church today, no one can. It’s closed because late Monday night a man came in and destroyed something she and her fellow parishioners hold sacred.

“It breaks your heart because we hold this as very sacred, this is the body of Christ and you’re taking something that we hold very precious and you’re saying this is garbage,” she said.

Inside, the church appears to be untouched, but pastor, Fr. Vincent Chirichella knows otherwise. Police responded to a 911 call that there was a man inside the church, breaking things and trying to hurt himself, he was seen hitting himself over the head with a monstrance and speaking incoherently.

“Something egregious was done, the blessed sacrament was desecrated in our home, the entire church is in love with the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament so for us it was very upsetting,” said Fr. Chirichella.

Fr. Chirichella plus the two other priests and seminarian who live at St. Joseph’s found the man wearing priestly vestments right after desecrating the Eucharist in the adoration chapel and sanctuary.

“Now the main thing is to get the church reconsecrated and the prayers of reparation said so we can invite the faithful back into the church so they can receive holy communion and we can have mass,” said Fr. Chirichella.

The man was released from police custody to Elmhurst Hospital for an evaluation, now members of the church community say they just want to continue to worship in peace.

“I don’t know what to say, it’s a shame the church is closed right now and people can’t go into it, I don’t know how the mayor needs to fix the city but he needs to fix the city,” said Marlene.

“We of course do forgive him and we’re praying for him that he does get better and can be a productive member of the community, that’s our hope for him,” Fr. Chirichella said.

St. Joseph’s is getting a new recording system for their surveillance cameras and officers from the 114th precinct will be coming to conduct a crime prevention check.