NEW YORK (CBS 2) – The archbishop of New York paid a special visit to Staten Island Sunday morning. He celebrated mass in Port Richmond in the wake of a series of bias attacks in the neighborhood.
Music and prayer filled Saint Mary of the Assumption Parish during Sunday morning mass.
LISTEN: WCBS 880′s Ginny Kosola reports
The church, in the Port Richmond section of Staten Island, was packed with parishioners for mass celebrated in Spanish by Archbishop Timothy Dolan.
The Archbishop was there as a show of support for the mostly Hispanic congregation who are seeing a wave of bias crimes, largely against Hispanic men.
“Staten Island people know, this has no place here,” Dolan said. “We want to renew what we’re all about, and I think that’s happening.”
Pat Harder came back to the church, where she was married 55 years ago, for Dolan’s service.
“I didn’t understand hardly one word during mass, but there was so much love, so many smiles, so much happiness,” Harder said.
The latest of a dozen attacks in Port Richmond was reported last week.
Police have established a heavy presence in the neighborhood to combat the crimes, including a 24-hour command post, watch towers and extra officers. Some at the service say it is helping.
“I see a lot of cops, like every day, 24/7, day and night,” Port Richmond resident Jiovanny Garcia said.
Most of the officers temporarily assigned to Port Richmond speak Spanish. They’re getting out the word that crime victims will not be prosecuted if they’re in the county illegally, they say that’s encouraging some in the community to come forward to report attacks.
Police are also handing out flyers in the area, printed in Spanish and English, making it clear that illegal immigrants won’t be targeted for coming forward.