First Place Award for General Excellence, Catholic Press Association, 2013-2016

Faithful Cover Costs to Repair, Replace Vandalized Fatima Statues
Homeless Man Arrested in Incident
By CHRISTIE L. CHICOINE

Parishioners of the Shrine Church of St. Anthony of Padua in Greenwich Village, as well as non-parishioners, have donated funds to replace the three shepherd children statues and repair the Our Lady of Fatima statue vandalized outside the church in late June.

David Hedeen, 40, a homeless man, was arrested July 13 and charged with four counts of criminal mischief for the incident that occurred after midnight on June 26, according to the NYPD. The incident is being treated as a hate crime.

About $11,000—which exceeds the costs to replace and refurbish the statues—has been donated, Father Mario Julian, O.F.M., pastor of St. Anthony of Padua, told CNY July 28. The costs to fix and replace the statues are estimated at $5,000, but should that figure increase the pastor will put the additional money toward that purpose. Remaining funds, he said, will be earmarked for necessary work projects on the church hall.

“The faithful—people that don’t even belong to this church, that saw it on the news—sent in donations,” the pastor added. “God bless people for that. I really appreciate it.”

CNY ran a story on the vandalism in the July 6 issue. A reader called seeking information about how to donate, and was directed to the parish.

“It was the violent nature that was so tough to absorb,” Father Julian said at that time. “He was walking by, he literally jumped over the fence, went over, picked up the statues and tossed them violently against the Blessed Mother of Fatima statue...He flung them so hard that it hit the statue and they landed on their face—face down on the cement.”

Damage to the statues includes broken hands and a nose, in addition to chips the structures sustained. “The cement base that they were in was cracked,” the pastor said, as the statues of the shepherd children were removed from their bases.

“That Fatima shrine means a lot to these people,” Father Julian said in the July 28 interview. “It’s been there over 40 years. Especially the old-timers, they were so distraught when they saw that damage done. I felt for them.

“They have a deep-rooted faith, and that means a lot to me. They responded to a problem and they helped take care of it. They will do what they need to do to take care of things.”

The pastor continues to keep the situation in perspective. “You deal with what happens and you move on,” he said. “You do the best that you can.”

He encouraged the faithful to pray for the man charged with vandalizing the statues. “You don’t get upset at the person that does it, you actually pray for them. And that’s what we do. We keep him in our prayers. We hope he gets the help he needs” and that someday “he’s able to function in society.”

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