Someone knocked over the Crucifix outside Saint Athanasius Roman Catholic Church on 61st Street and Bay Parkway in Bensonhurst.
The damaged Crucifix was discovered by the parish priest, Monsignor David Cassato, around 8 a.m. on Friday during his walk from the presbytery to the academy to greet the students.
The statue of Jesus, the cross and the display were all damaged. A GoFundMe page has been created to help restore the church.
“It was truly an act of hatred and today is the saddest day of my twenty years here in this parish,” said Bishop David Cassato. “I went to talk to the students at the school about what had happened, telling them that hate never wins. We are, and must be, a community that continues to share the Easter message, which is love, hope and forgiveness. The faithful took to the streets on Friday evening, praying in solidarity.
For Barbara Loughlin, she has been a member of Saint Athanasius for 27 years. She was shocked to learn what happened to their beloved statue of Jesus overnight.
“I couldn’t believe it. I drove by here today, and didn’t see it,” Loughlin said.
The statue was deliberately knocked over – the pieces of wood were shattered and the American flag hanging from the rectory was burned.
“We are a people of God – we love everyone, we accept everything,” said church trustee Ginger Bivona.
A poster stolen from their sister church St. Dominic’s a week ago was found slashed on the lawn – suggesting the two incidents could be linked.
“It’s terrible – no place of worship should have to experience something like this,” Loughlin added.
Whatever the person in charge was trying to accomplish didn’t work – parishioners say it brought them closer together, and they hope the suspect finds the right path.
Community outweighs hate, simply by spreading the message of unity and love.
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