NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A newborn baby was found in a manger in the nativity scene of the Holy Child Jesus Church in Richmond Hill Monday, police said.
The boy was wrapped in towels and still had his umbilical cord attached. Police estimate the boy was 4-5 hours old when he was found.
“A newborn baby, umbilical cord still attached, wrapped in a blanket — swaddling clothes,” Father Christopher Heanue said.
The child was rushed to Jamaica Hospital for treatment, but is said to be healthy and in stable condition.
Father Heanue told CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez that he couldn’t believe his eyes.
“I was shocked, and yet really moved by it. The church is meant to be home for those in need and Pope Francis preaches about mercy and this is that year of mercy, and what more merciful way to live but to give a home to somebody in need,” he said.
Heanue said no matter who adopts the little boy, he will always be a part of the Church.
“It wasn’t an abandonment, it was placing him in the hands of God,” Heanue said.
A school nurse tended to the newborn until an ambulance arrived to take the baby to the hospital.
Police believe the boy’s mother left the child between 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Monday.
The church is considered a “Safe Haven.” New York’s Safe Haven law says a person can leave their baby, up to 30 days old, with any responsible person at a suitable location.
The child’s mother may still face prosecution, however, because even though the church is a Safe Haven, no one was notified when the mother left him there.
Kevin and Lauren Shiner, church members and new parents themselves, sympathized with the baby’s mother.
“She was probably just thinking that this is a safe place and that the person who would find her would do the right thing,” Lauren said.
There are no surveillance cameras inside the church. Bishop Cisneros said outdoor cameras show several women arriving and leaving, but it’s not clear who left the baby.
The parish just wants the child’s mother to know the baby boy is safe, already loved and will always have a home at Holy Child Jesus Church.