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After vandalism at Manorville shrine, priest’s thoughts turn to healing for person responsible

Damaged statue at Shrine of Our Lady of the Island in Manorville as it appeared yesterday, left, and before the vandalism. Photos courtesy of the Shrine.

With Holy Week just around the corner, a life-size statue of Jesus was vandalized last Saturday night at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Island in Manorville, Suffolk County Police Department officials said.

The Rev. Peter D’Abele, an administrator, said that visitors first reported the damage — the face had been completely smashed — Sunday morning. Police came to investigate right away, he said.

“At first they thought it was a branch, but the damage is very specific, like they took a hammer to it,” D’Abele said.

Although the crime is also being investigated by detectives from the Suffolk County Hate Crimes Section because it is a religious statue, D’Abele said that he thinks it was someone that was very angry and might have been intoxicated.

“They took the anger out on the statue, and if it’s a matter of extreme anger, it has to be dealt with,” he said.

The Rev. Peter D’Abele, administrator at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Island in Manorville spoke about the vandalism in his office yesterday. Photo: Maria Piedrabuena

D’Abele said that whoever has caused the damage needs to deal with the underlying problem that caused them to smash the statue and encouraged them to talk to someone about it.

“If they find whoever did this and they want to talk to one of us, that’ s fine and if they want to go to a counselor that’s also fine, but whatever they need to do to reverse that, it’s important,“ he said.

“This time it was a statue, next time it can be a person, you never know.”

The 20-year-old fiberglass statute is one of at least 50 at the heavily-wooded site. The Shrine has about 15 stations and trails that depict the Stations of the Cross, where hundreds of local residents go to commemorate Good Friday, said D’Abele.

In the past, Shrine officials dealt with issues of people attacking the donation box or stealing the baby Jesus at the Nativity set, but this is the first time in 40 years a statue has been vandalized, D’Abele said.

Although the incident has shocked the community, they have quickly rallied to raise funds to fix it, he said.

“There’s been a great response from the community, we even had someone in California calling saying that they had been here before and would send a check to help with the statue,” he said.

D’Abele also explained that there is a group of Pokemon Go (a location-based augmented reality game) players who look for Pokemons at the Shrine that have organized to raise funds to help fix the statue, even creating a GoFundMe page.

“I think they are great to let us drive around or walk around there with no issues. I believe this is a great way for us to give back to this place,” wrote David Ringhiser on behalf of Eileen Clinton on the GoFundme description.

“They are here at all hours of the day or night, I think there’s about 80 Pokemons here, which is why is so popular, but hopefully they might have seen something or have some tip of someone not from their group,” D’Abele said.

Suffolk County Crime Stoppers and Suffolk County Hame Crimes Section detectives are seeking the public’s help to identify and locate the person or people responsible and are offering a fast-cash reward of $5,000 for information that leads to an arrest in the case.

Anyone with information about these incidents can contact Suffolk County Crime Stoppers to submit an *anonymous tip *by calling 1-800-220-TIPS, texting “SCPD” and your message to “CRIMES” (274637) or by email at www.tipsubmit.com. All calls, text messages and emails will be kept confidential.

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Maria Piedrabuena
María, a multimedia reporter, graduated from Stony Brook University with degrees in journalism and women and gender studies. She has worked for several news outlets including News12 and Fortune Magazine. A native of Spain, she loves to read, write and travel. She lives in Manorville. Email Maria