The two statues targeted by the vandal had been in place since the church’s opening in 1937, and depict the Blessed Mother and St. Therese, the patron saint of florists. The vandal dragged the statues close to 200 feet across 70th Avenue before destroying them completely with a hammer.
Earlier in the week, both of the statues had been toppled, but were not damaged. Church officials believe that the same person is responsible for both incidents.
“Both of these statues have stood in front of the church since it was built,” said Father Frank Schwarz, Pastor of Our Lady of Mercy Roman Catholic Church. “It is heartbreaking, but sadly it is becoming more and more common these days. I pray that religious tolerance may become more a part of our society.”
In the early morning hours of May 14, a crucifix was toppled and damaged and an American Flag burned at St. Athanasius Roman Catholic Church in Bensonhurst. The damaged crucifix was discovered by Monsignor David Cassato around 8 a.m. on his walk from the rectory to the academy to greet the students.
Then on May 17, a statue of Mary holding the baby Jesus was found vandalized near the diocese’s administrative office in Windsor Terrace. Diocese officials are working towards repairing the statue to its original form.
The Roman Catholic Church is not the only religious community currently reeling from a surge in crimes. On May 13, worshippers at the Tayba Islamic Center in Sheepshead Bay were shocked to find anti-Palestine phrases scraswled on the side of the building.
On May 22, a group of Jewish worshippers were verbally assaulted outside of a Borough Park Temple. Both episodes occurred while tensions between Israel and Palestine remained extremely high.
The Diocese of Brooklyn asks that anyone with information about this weekend’s attack in Forest Hills reach out to the NYPD Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS (8477).