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Parish leaders, worshippers lament vandalism of nativity scene at Saint Nicholas of Tolentine in Queens

Nativity scene at Queens church vandalized
Nativity scene at Queens church vandalized 01:17

NEW YORK -- Vandals have been captured on camera destroying a festive nativity scene at a Catholic parish in Queens.

CBS2 went to Saint Nicholas of Tolentine in Jamaica to show how the faithful community is reacting.

Surveillance video shows vandals on a scooter pull up to the church at two separate times, two hours apart on Thursday night. They are seen kicking the Plexiglass and ripping out lights from the colorful display.

"They came with a particular intention to destroy because of their hatred against the religion," Father Thomas Joseph said.

Worshippers at Sunday night's service told CBS2 it was unexpected and meant to be hurtful.

"I hope and pray for them that they will realize that it's wrong to do that," Merle Nazares said.

"It is horrible. We were kind of shocked that this is the first time it happened here," Dessie Cerna said.

The pastor said he discovered the vandalism on Friday morning as he was preparing for Mass.

"It was just like a trauma because soon after Christmas and New Year's we were just in a celebrative mood," Joseph said.

Police came to take down a report on Sunday night, but church leaders say they're not holding a grudge.

"I am praying for the people who did this that God may forgive them, that they may have healing," Father Abraham Mathew said.

The figures of Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus have been put back, but the rest still needs to be repaired.

Police say the Hate Crimes Task Force has been notified. 

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