Irish priest tells of 'Christmas miracle' as newborn baby found in New York church manger
It's not quite Christmas, and it wasn't quite a miracle on 42nd Street, but as far as New Yorkers are concerned when an infant is found abandoned in a manger, it's the next best thing.
The newborn with his umbilical cord still attached was found lying in a church, police confirmed yesterday.
Fr Christopher Ryan Heanue, whose parents are from Kentstown, near Navan in Co Meath, was one of the priests at the church in the borough of Queens, and told last night how he and others placed a clean towel around the baby while waiting for paramedics to arrive.
"The beautiful thing is that this woman found in this church - which is supposed to be a home for those in need - this home for her child," Fr Heanue said, referring to the person he assumed left the baby there.
The crying infant was discovered on Monday wrapped in towels in the indoor nativity scene by the custodian at the Holy Child Jesus Church, a New York police spokesman said. The custodian had just set up the scene before taking a lunch break.
"A young couple in our parish would love to adopt this child and keep this gift in our community. It would make a great Christmas miracle," Fr Heanue said.
"The baby was found in creche, a sort of manger scene where we would put the baby Jesus during Christmas time," he said.
"The church is considered a safe haven for drop-offs. The baby was brand new. He still had the umbilical cord attached. It's a beautiful baby boy."
Paramedics took the healthy baby to Jamaica Hospital and police are investigating the incident, the police spokesman said.
Church custodian Jose Moran had just set up the scene before taking a lunch break, and spotted the crying infant when he got back.
Mr Moran called Paul Cerni, the parish secretary, who originally thought Moran was explaining that a child was lost. When Cerni realized the truth, he immediately called 911.
"I was disappointed they didn't come right away. I had to call them again 10 minutes later," Mr Cerni told the 'Guardian' newspaper.
Under New York state law, a parent may abandon a newborn anonymously at certain designated safe locations, as long as the baby is handed over to an appropriate person.