A parish in Queens, New York is raising funds to repair its statue of Mary, which was found knocked over and split in half on May 28.

“We just started a GoFundMe page yesterday and within one hour there was already about $1500 in support from different people just wanting to restore the image,” Father Eric de la Pena, parochial vicar of St. Adalbert Parish in the Elmhurst neighborhood of the borough of Queens in New York City, told CNA.

As of Thursday afternoon, the parish GoFundMe site had raised more than $3,100 of its $5000 goal to restore the statue.

On Friday morning May 28, the Blessed Mother statue in the parish courtyard was found split in half, with the top section completely separated and on the ground.

There are no cameras in that area of the parish, although Fr. de la Pena told CNA the parish has new plans to put cameras in the courtyard because of the incident. 

“It’s a sad thing to see this happen but what’s heartwarming is to see the kind of response that we are getting,” de la Pena said.

“More than just the image being restored,” he said, “I'm supposing that [supporting the statue’s repair] is symbolic of restoring a community that has been hurt, and that speaks volumes.”

Robert Holden, a member of the New York City Council, expressed his dismay over the vandalism, which occurred at the church where he said he served as an altar boy and was married.

“I will not tolerate this mindless desecration of church property. This statue was located in the rear yard of the rectory, so the vandals had to trespass on church property,” Holden wrote on Facebook.

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St. Adalbert parish is part of the Brooklyn diocese. In May, the diocese requested a greater police presence outside its churches after two incidents of vandalism in three days at church properties. The diocesan moderator of the curia expressed concern about “a pattern of hate crimes against Catholics.” 

A statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe was destroyed at a Brooklyn parish in September 2020. The Knights of Columbus donated $10,000 toward a new statue, which was installed on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Dec. 12.

Fr. de la Pena told CNA of the vandalism at St. Adalbert, “These are cheap thrills. And if one is looking for real happiness, then find that in doing something good and serving others.”