By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Parishioners of Saint Anselm Catholic Church, who were heartbroken when a vandal drenched two religious statues on the church grounds with red paint in a shocking attack on five religious institutions in Bay Ridge on July 30, vowed that their statues will rise again.
Dan Texeira, president of the Parish Pastoral Planning Council, said the church members are eager to get the statues fixed, or if they can’t be fixed, replace them.
“They’ll be back,” Texeira told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.
For now, however, the statues of Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary are missing from their pedestals in the garden outside St. Anselm Church at 356 82nd St. The statues were taken down after the police investigation of the vandalism was completed.
The parish is consulting with experts to determine if the statues can be salvaged, according to Texeira, an insurance broker who has lived in Bay Ridge all his life. “We are finding out if they can be replaced or if we have to get new statues,” he said.
Parishioners are determined to move forward, Texeira, said. The vandalism is “not going to stop us from having statues outside our church,” he said.
On Tuesday, police at the 68th Precinct arrested a suspect in the desecration of four religious sites and a school in Bay Ridge.
The suspect, Chris Papadimitropoulos, 55, of Brooklyn, was charged with six counts of criminal mischief as a hate crime.
Four churches and a prep school were splattered with red paint, police said. The vandalism was discovered shortly after 3 a.m. on July 30.
In addition to covering the St. Anselm Church statues with red paint, the vandal spray painted the word “no” at the front entrance of the Bay Ridge Jewish Center, at 415 81st St., and painted the same word on the front wall at a Lutheran church on Ridge Boulevard. Curiously, the word “on” was found spray painted near the entrance of Bay Ridge Prep, a private school at 7420 Fourth Ave.
A fifth site, Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church, at 8401 Ridge Boulevard, suffered significant damage, according to Christopher Elisson, a church member. Red paint was discovered on six of the church’s doors, on a flagpole on the front lawn, and on the cornerstone of the church, he said. “It was pretty bizarre,” he said at a press conference held on Tuesday.
The press conference, which took place outside St. Anselm Church, was called by US Rep. Michael Grimm (R-C-Bay Ridge-Staten Island), state Sen. Marty Golden (R-C-Bay Ridge-southern Brooklyn), and Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R-C-Bay Ridge-Staten Island) to condemn the vandalism.
The paint-splattered statues outside St. Anselm Church were discovered early in the morning, according to Golden, who is a parishioner “There were parishioners out here on the sidewalk crying,” said Golden, who was at the scene at 7:30 a.m.
Golden predicted that it would cost thousands of dollars to repair the two statues. "You have to send them out to be repaired. It isn't a matter of just wiping off the paint," he told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.
Texeira confirmed Golden’s statement. “If the paint is embedded into the statue, you won’t be able to get it off,” he said.
The incident has brought out the best in the people of Bay Ridge, Texeira said. “The phone has been ringing off the hook with people wanting to donate money for the statues,” he said.
The statue of Jesus Christ was originally paid for with a generous donation from a single parishioner.
Even non-parishioners enjoyed having the statues outside the church, Texeira said. “You used to see people who were just walking by stop by the statue, say a quick prayer, and then go about their day,” he said.