The Baby Jesus statue was stolen from the brand new outdoor nativity scene in front of Sacred Hearts/St. Stephen Church sometime early Thursday morning, after a mere ten days in his manger. The nativity was generously donated this year by lifelong Carroll Gardens resident and SHSS parishioner, Louis Pepe, in loving memory of his parents, Vincenza and Vincent Pepe, and was placed right on the corner of Summit & Hicks Streets, across from the Summit Street bridge.
On Sunday, December 23, dozens of volunteers converged on SHSS to decorate both the inside and outside of the church. This custom has been going on for years. The entire church is beautifully transformed but the outdoor creche was just added this season. A stable and manger were built by parishioner Chris Kauffmann who lends his masterful carpentry skills to the church whenever he is needed. Mr. Pepe donated all the statues and the volunteers and Knights of Columbus assembled the entire nativity scene, all except the Baby Jesus statue, and decorated it with evergreen boughs. Baby Jesus was placed in the manger later, on Christmas Eve.
My husband and I noted all this activity as we left the church that Sunday after helping out. My husband also commented that he hoped that no one would vandalize or steal anything. I said that I thought it would be safe; after all, who would want to do anything like that? My husband replied that he was just being a realist... Well, the realist definitely won this round because, lo and behold, the Baby Jesus is now missing.
Monsignor Guy Massie reported the theft to the 76th Precinct on Thursday. Later on in the day, a reporter for the Brooklyn/Queens Diocesan news show, Currents, interviewed Msgr. Massie, church secretary RoseMarie Foglia, and church sacristan Andrew DiManso. Msgr. Massie stated that, while the theft was a sign of disrespect, if it was merely a prank, he hoped that the statue would simply be returned. Ms. Foglia spoke about how the display had enhanced the festivities and the true meaning of Christmas this year for the community. Mr. DiManso said that the statue of the infant Jesus was a sign of welcome to the church.
This brings me back to my original question: who would steal Baby Jesus??!! Could it be some pranksters? Some local kids? I remember reading a sweet little book written several years ago by the late Frank McCourt called Angela and the Baby Jesus. Mr. McCourt told the story about his mother, Angela, who had taken the Baby Jesus from the local church when she was a child and had hidden it at home under a blanket because she thought it was too cold at the church. I have a feeling that this is not the case here. If someone reading this knows the whereabouts of SHSS's Baby Jesus, please just bring him back soon so we can end our Christmas season with the whole (Holy) family in tact.