Monday, November 10, 2008

Recovery from Vandalism

Unfortunately, multiple churchs in the Richford, Vermont area were violated last week. Refreshingly, however, the congregations did not allow the violations to keep them from their Sunday worship. Below is a story from a local television station:

Sunday morning's mass at the All Saints Church was the first since it was reconsecrated by the bishop Saturday night.

"It was just so spiritually uplifting," organist Fredda Ploof said. "I've never witnessed anything like that before. It was very emotional."

Ploof said the ceremony made the church feel sacred once again. Monday night, it had been broken into. The tabernacle that holds the Eucharist -- the sacramental body of Christ -- was vandalized. "We consider the church holy, very holy," she said. "And for anybody to come in like that, it's like invading our religion and how we respect this as a house of God."

All Saints is just one of four area churches broken into or vandalized over the past week. A church in Cavendish was burglarized, and a church in Berlin, New Hampshire, sustained an estimated $20,000 worth of damage. Just up the road from All Saints, Our Lady of Lourdes, in East Berkshire, was broken into Tuesday night. While nothing appeared to have been taken, the church was ransacked.

"Somebody came in and took Christ forcefully out of the church, in the blessed sacrament," Rev. Karl Hahr said. He serves both Franklin County parishes and said the break-ins were not just acts of vandalism, but attacks on Jesus Himself. Catholics believe Jesus is present in the hosts, or wafers shared in the Eucharist."They had smashed the doors in, so it was heartbreaking to see it," he said. "It was hard to see if they took any of the hosts."

The tabernacle used in Sunday's mass is about half the size as the one that was destroyed. The original one weighed about a hundred pounds, and was found dumped in the church basement. Hahr said police have not named a suspect or a motive. "It's either idiots that don't realize there's nothing of monetary value kept in the church," he said. "Or there's a possibility it's a hate crime. I'm hoping it's not that, but it's always a possibility."

Hahr explained that while the tabernacle holds tremendous value to the church and its parishioners, it does not have much value outside. It appears gold but is actually made of steel, so it's not likely to be sold for scrap.

Whatever the motive, Hahr said parishioners are ready to forgive whoever did this. "We're used to going to confession and being forgiven ourselves," he said, "so it's very easy to begin to forgive."

For video footage of WCAX-TV's reporting of this story, please click HERE.
An earlier story by WPTZ on the burglary may be found HERE.

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