A man doused the altar of a Greenpoint church in juice on Jan. 12, interrupting mass in an act the Brooklyn Diocese described as a desecration of the Kings County house of worship.
Video shows a 33-year-old man waltz up to the altar of St. Anthony of Padua on Manhattan Avenue near Noble Street at around 9:30 am, before pouring the red juice on the holy table and a bible, and spraying some of the liquid on Father Jossy Vattothu — staining the priest’s robes and leaving him in shock, according to the pastor.
“During my years as a priest, nothing like this has ever happened,” Father Vattothu said.
Fortunately, the vandal missed the holy sacraments stored on the altar for communion — allowing Vattothu to proceed with mass in what he described as an act of divine intervention.
“It is a miracle that the bread and wine were not damaged, and I was able to continue the Mass, consecrating the bread and wine into the body and blood of Jesus Christ,” said Vattothu.
Congregants held the juice-throwing suspect in the church for authorities, who took the suspect to Woodhull Hospital for evaluation — but did not arrest him, according to a Police Department spokesman.
The incident follows acts of vandalism targeting Catholic churches throughout the city, including the destruction of a $5,000 statue of St. Jude at Out Lady of Mount Carmel in Williamsburg on Nov. 3, and the more recent vandalism of Sacred Heart of Jesus in Bayside, Queens on Jan. 12, when someone scrawled gang signs on the church and school there.
The juicing further comes on the heels of a string of anti-Semitic attacks against Orthodox Jews throughout the borough, which have led city and state law enforcement agencies to increase patrols in Williamsburg, Crown Heights, and Borough Park.
“I think right now, people are scared, given the current environment of anti-Semitic and anti-Catholic incidents. People are afraid to go to their house of worship,” said the chancellor of the Diocese of Brooklyn, Monsignor Anthony Hernandez.
Father Vattothu said he will pray for his attacker, and asked parishioners to gather nearer to the altar in a bid to ward off future juice attacks.
“I pray for this person and do not know what was going through his mind. I am grateful for the parishioners who were so caring and consoled me after mass,” Father Vattothu said. “I would urge Catholics who attend mass to sit closer to the altar so that we as a faith community can be more together and make the priest feel more comfortable.”