Breaking News
More () »

'I am in shock': Ukrainian church in New Britain devastated by vandalization

Two windows were recently broken at St. Mary’s Ukrainian Orthodox Church. The church community said they feel targeted as the war against Russia continues.

NEW BRITAIN, Conn. — Two windows at St. Mary’s Ukrainian Orthodox Church on Winter Street in New Britain were damaged a month ago. The church's congregation is devastated by the incident, and the person who admitted responsibility remains in custody.

“Our community is very traumatized by this event,” Nataliya Kyrychenko said. “We’re outraged. Very hurt.”

Kyrychenko is the recording secretary of the church’s executive board. She said she was in tears when she first heard what happened.

Dear friends, we have some sad news to share with you! Our church/temple has been a victim of vandalism recently. 2...

Posted by St. Mary's Ukrainian Orthodox Church on Monday, August 22, 2022

The church has been in the city for more than a hundred years and has served as a place of community for Ukrainians and many others. Jaroslawa Buczko has prayed at the church since moving to New Britain nearly 60 years ago. The Poland immigrant said the church means love to her as all are welcome.

“I think that’s a horrible thing what’s going on in this world. Why do people go and destroy property that people are, work for this their whole life?” she said. “It breaks my heart. I feel like crying.”

RELATED: Ukrainian couple settles in Cromwell with host mom after fleeing from war

Wilfredo Rios, 61, remains in police custody on a $2,500 bond for admitting to damaging the windows on July 22. He faces second-degree charges for breach of peace and criminal mischief as well as desecrating a house of worship charges.

Security camera footage shows Rios throwing an object at the church and then walking away. He returned and threw another object.

In his arrest warrant, he told police he was sorry for his behavior. He said there were two reasons he did it. Rios believed someone was following him and wanted to scare them off and “take some of the frustration out at the same time.”

He told police he had also been asked to leave a Polish bakery and broke the window as a form of retaliation to what he thought was a Polish church. Police believe Rios has a mental disorder.

“I am in shock. I don’t even know what to say,” Buczko said. “It’s no respect.”

RELATED: On eve of Ukraine's national day, fears Russia will pounce

The war in Ukraine has gone on for more than six months now. Ukraine will celebrate its independence Wednesday. What happened to their church just adds more pain to an already stressful time of year, Kyrychenko said.

Credit: FOX61
'We Stand in Solidarity' sign outside the New Britain home of Jaroslawa Buczko who has attended St. Mary's Ukrainian Orthodox Church for nearly 60 years.

Sign up for the FOX61 newsletters: Morning Forecast, Morning Headlines, Evening Headlines

The church has to pay more than $1,000 to fix the broken windows. Luckily, the stained glass window wasn’t damaged; only the protective layer in front of it. That piece of art is priceless, Kyrychenko said. She said they had another window broken earlier this year.

“We have to get ourselves together, get money together, and fix it again,” she said. “We want to pass it down to other generations like it was passed to us.”

Donations can be mailed to the church at 54 Winter Street, New Britain, CT 06053.

Tony Black is a multi-media journalist at FOX61 News. He can be reached at tblack@fox61.com. Follow him on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.


Have a story idea or something on your mind you want to share? We want to hear from you! Email us at newstips@fox61.com



Download the FOX61 News APP

iTunes: Click here to download

Google Play: Click here to download

Stream Live on ROKU: Add the channel from the ROKU store or by searching FOX61.

Steam Live on FIRE TV: Search ‘FOX61’ and click ‘Get’ to download.


Before You Leave, Check This Out