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"Egregious" Act of Religious Desecration at St. Joseph’s Church in Astoria, NY

Diocese Brooklyn
June 08, 2023

"Egregious" Act of Religious Desecration at St. Joseph’s Church in Astoria, NY

The Diocese of Brooklyn is cooperating with the New York City Police Department in response to an act of religious desecration and vandalism that took place Monday night at St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church located at 4319-30th Avenue in the Astoria section of Queens.

At approximately 8 p.m., a 21-year-old man entered the church rectory through an open door, left open for access to the parish’s Adoration Chapel. The man destroyed framed photos of Pope Francis and Bishop Robert Brennan and continued to the basement where he spread paint thinner on the floor. He then re-entered the chapel sacristy and dressed in priestly vestments.

A parish priest found the man when he arrived to lock up the chapel. He was violently hitting himself in the head with a Monstrance, a religious vessel used to display the Blessed Sacrament, cutting himself and bleeding on the Monstrance and the vestment. He then ran into the main sanctuary, down the center aisle onto the altar, opening the Tabernacle and throwing the consecrated hosts onto the floor.

The priest who found the man called the other parish clergy and seminarian in residence for help. The pastor immediately called the police and officers from the 114th Precinct responded quickly. The man was placed in handcuffs and removed by NYPD officers. He was released from police custody to Elmhurst Hospital where he underwent an evaluation.

Father Vincent Chirichella, who called the act “egregious,” said he forgives the man and is praying for him. St. Joseph’s Catholic Church must now be reconsecrated by Bishop Robert Brennan, and prayers of reparation said before Mass can resume in the main sanctuary. This has been scheduled for Friday, June 9, 2023, at Noon.

The photos below include the damaged photo of Pope Francis, the main altar at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Astoria, the Tabernacle, and a parish sign posted indicating that Mass was moved to the chapel due to the desecration.