August 1, 2018 By Nathaly Pesantez
A priest at St. Raphael’s Roman Catholic Church was allegedly attacked this morning by a man who was urinating in the church’s parking lot.
Rev. Jerry Jecewiz, 68, was in the rectory next to the 35-20 Greenpoint Ave. church when he saw a man in his 30s “relieving himself” right outside his window at around 7:30 a.m. today.
“I saw him from the kitchen window and knocked on it,” Jecewiz told the Sunnyside Post.
Jecewiz couldn’t clearly see if the man had gone away, and made his way to the rectory’s main entrance to check out the site.
But the man was waiting right at the entrance, and was cursing before allegedly swinging at the priest’s face soon after the door opened.
“He wanted to hit me in the face, but I ducked,” Jecewiz said, adding that the man did manage to get the side of his face. “But I wasn’t hurt or anything like that.”
Jecewiz then phoned police, but not before securing the rectory. He last saw the man, who appeared disoriented and was swinging his arms, making his way to the church’s main entrance on Greenpoint Avenue.
An NYPD spokesperson confirmed that police responded to a 911 call from the site at around 7:21 a.m., but did not take a complaint report down, instead determining the case to be a dispute, according to the final disposition.
The priest, who has been at the church for about 11 years and spoke about the attack in a lighthearted tone, said something like this has never happened to him before.
“We’ve had people relieving themselves in nooks and crannies, but that happens,” he said.
He recalled having to contact police to come to their food pantry at times, where they have sometimes encountered disturbed persons, but nothing compared to this morning’s incident.
Jecewiz said his main concern was the church, as a young teenager opens up the site at around that time, with the elderly usually being the first to come into the parish. Luckily, the church was still locked.
The attack comes at a time when residents of the Blissville neighborhood claim there has been an uptick in crime and that the area’s demeanor has changed because of the three recently-opened homeless shelters.
While Jecewiz is aware of the nearby shelters that have opened, he says he hasn’t seen a change in the area, only noticing that more people have come by the church to ask to use the restroom.
“It’s an urban, gritty area here with a big, busy intersection,” Jecewiz said. “There’s lots of factories and people coming and going.”
“I hope it’s an one-off incident,” he added. “Just one of those New York City things.”