RICHMOND HILL, Queens (WABC) -- Police are looking for the mother of a newborn boy who was left in a Queens church's Nativity scene Monday.
The infant was found around noon at the Holy Child Jesus Church in Richmond Hill. He was wrapped in cloth -- even his face was covered -- and he was lying in the church's indoor Nativity display.
A custodian at Holy Child was drawn to the scene near the altar. "(I) heard in the distance a baby crying," the custodian said. "The baby was still, umbilical cord connected, so it was truly a newborn baby."
Fr. Christopher Heanue and others were called to help the infant left in the manger, which actually wasn't supposed to be set up for another couple of weeks.
"God has a way of working mysteriously because I believe when this woman who came in with this child saw this creche, this empty home, this home in which we'll welcome Jesus in just a few short weeks, I believe she found in it a home for her child," Heanue said.
At 5 pounds and 17 inches long, the boy was taken to Jamaica Hospital where he's in good health. He is in the custody of the city's Administration for Children's Services.
Regina Santoro, a parishioner at Holy Child Jesus Church, was in the rectory office when the custodian called.
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"We went over there. There was just a leg out of the towel, and there was some blood," she said. "At that point, we didn't really know what was going on. I just picked up the towel and opened up the towel, and his little face was there and he started to move around."
Santoro called Geraldine Walsh, the school nurse at Holy Child Jesus Catholic Academy.
"We assessed the baby. Respiratory-wise, he was fine, he was breathing OK," said Walsh. "He was crying, he was moving and so I just tied a knot in the umbilical cord and we wrapped him up, and made sure he was warm -- kept him comfortable until the ambulance came."
It's unclear if the mother will face any criminal charges.
Police are now trying to find the boy's mother, who has not been identified. "I feel for the mother, for her sorrow, and for the feelings that she must be going through," Heanue said.
Evelyn Plaza, a parishioner, said the church is like a family and already several members have stepped forward and offered to adopt the child. "I was crying just watching the news," Plaza said. "To me, I call him baby Jesus already, so he's like a child is born, that's the way I look at it, in the manger of Holy Child Jesus Church."
"To hear something like this totally shocked me and I've never heard of anybody leaving a newborn, and I've been here for 25 years. Never," she said.
By law, a church is considered an official Safe Haven for drop-offs, but the baby is supposed to be handed to a responsible person, not left unattended. Meanwhile, parishioners here are calling this a little miracle.
"I think the baby was meant to be left there. We have a fantastic family in the community of Holy Child," said Santoro.
(Some details from the Associated Press)
Police looking for mother of newborn boy left in Queens church's Nativity scene