The cross outside St. Vincent de Paul Church at Avenue C and West 45th Street was replaced on the one-year anniversary of its desecration on Sept. 26.
In an interview with the Bayonne Community News, Rev. Sergio Nadres recalled the congregation’s ordeal.
Desecrating religious symbols
In September of 2019, the cross that sat on the front lawn of the church was destroyed.
An unknown vandal ripped the crucifix from the ground and threw it down. The perpetrator smashed the cross against the side of the church until it was broken into many pieces.
The cross that was destroyed by the unidentified attacker was worth approximately $1,500, but Nadres said that the destruction of a holy symbol hurts worse.
No one was charged in the incident, nor in similar incidents that occurred in Jersey City the same month. On Sept. 13, 2019, a Virgin Mary statue was covered in dog excrement at St. Michael’s Church, and on Sept. 16 a statue of St. Jude was covered in paint outside the shuttered St. Lucy’s Church.
In destroying a cross, the pepetrator desecrated a core symbol of the Catholic faith.
Community pulls together
In response to the attack on what locals see as a symbol of the neighborhood, the community rallied around St. Vincentde Paul.
The church’s Finance Committee set out to replace the cross, setting up a fundraiser on GoFundMe. President of the Finance Committee and the Men’s Club Tom D’Alessio, Trustee James Finnegan, and Parish Council member Mario Spiniello led the fundraising efforts.
The Knights of Columbus contributed a generous donation. Residents raised more than $4,000 for the new crucifix, allowing the church to purchase an even finer one.
Sergio said that he is grateful the cross is restored and that the community can embrace the symbol of its faith again.
The cross was blessed by Nadres, assisted by Rev. Juan Rojas, parochial vicar, Deacon Michael, and altar server Anise after mass on Oct. 4. D’Alessio, Finnegan and Spiniello were present for the ceremony.
Beautifying the area
Going forward, Nadres said that the church is looking to install security cameras to prevent such an incident from happening again.
The Men’s Club seeks to beautify the area around the cross with flowers and a fence and are asking for donations from the community.
Donors can make checks payable to St. Vincent de Paul and note “Beautify the Cross” on the memo line. Checks can be mailed to St. Vincent de Paul at 979 Avenue C, Bayonne NJ 07002, dropped in the collection basket at mass, or placed in the Rectory’s mail slot.
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