Nov. 1, 2023 By Bill Parry
The NYPD is investigating a vandalism incident that occurred on Monday, Oct. 30, at a Murray Hill church that caused tens of thousands of dollars worth or damage to a nearly 110-year-old statue.
Police from the 109th Precinct in Flushing responded to a call around 5 p.m. at St. Andrew Avellino Roman Catholic Church, located at 35-60 158th St. along Northern Boulevard, where someone smashed a statue of the Blessed Mother that has stood at the parish since 1914. The right hand of the statue of Mary was broken off the statue and an attempt was also made to remove the left hand leaving it cracked, according to an NYPD spokeswoman, who added that the vandal or vandals caused $50,000 worth of damage to the statue.
“The people of the parish of St. Andrew Avellino are saddened that events such as this are happening within our community and our city,” said Father Gregory McIlhenney, the parish pastor. “The parish will get through this experience, and we are determined to put the Blessed Mother back in her rightful place.”
The parish hosts a Rosary Rally on the first Saturday of every month at the Rosary Garden in front of the Blessed Mother statue. The Rosary Rally will go on as planned at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 4, and all are invited to pray.
State Senator John Liu condemned the vandalism.
“The statue of the Blessed Mother at St. Andrew Avellino has withstood the test of time for over a century, and it is absolutely deplorable that someone would defile this sacred symbol of faith from which so many parishioners and members of our community have drawn inspiration and peace,” Liu said Wednesday. “Such wanton vandalism shows a profound disregard for our community’s commitment to tolerance, respect, and unity, and we stand in solidarity with the St. Andrew Avellino parish against this hateful act.”
Detectives from the 109th Precinct are investigating the aggravated harassment investigation. There is no parish video surveillance available after security cameras were damaged during a recent storm, according to the Diocese of Brooklyn. Anyone with information is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS.