"They came for our ladies"
Vandals broke a window to enter St. Stanislaus Catholic Church in Modesto over the Aug. 28-29 weekend, where they knocked down four statutes of the Blessed Virgin and desecrated the sanctuary, police report. Among the damaged statues was one from Belgium that was more than 200 years old and is considered irreplaceable. Other statutes knocked down included one of Our Lady of Fatima and another of Our Lady of Guadalupe. A fourth statue of Mary, which was being stored in a back room awaiting placement outside the church was also knocked down. Police say the vandal or vandals also left a trail of blood around the altar, but were unclear whether the blood was a deliberate act of desecration of the result on injuries received by the vandal or vandals when the window was broken to gain entry to the church. A new organ was also knocked over, parish leaders reported to the police. Oddly, statues of male saints were not harmed – statues of St. Joseph and St. Anthony were left standing. "They came for our ladies," parish facilities manager Joe Ribeiro told the Modesto Bee. "They didn't touch the men. They didn't touch St. Joseph or St. Anthony." On Monday, Aug. 30, several hundred parishioners gathered for a special prayer service at St. Stanislaus asking God to forgive those who were responsible for the damage. "We are here especially to heal the pain, the sorrow," Fr. Ramon Bejarano, pastor of St. Stanislaus, told the Bee. "We ask God to continue to bless this place." “I thank God for giving us the strength to stand strong in our faith, and to hold our hands united as one family before the vandalism events of last weekend,” wrote Fr. Bejarno in the Sept. 5 parish bulletin. “I thank you for your prayers and moral support. We live in difficult times. I spoke at the prayer service about our need to pray, respect, and protect life. I’m saddened at the evils that are being committed against churches and their members.” A $1,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest of a suspect, police said. Anyone with information can call the anonymous Crime Stoppers hotline at 521-4636 or via Internet at www.stancrimetips.org. St. Stanislaus is in the Diocese of Stockton. The events at the Modesto church represent the most recent in a series of such attacks on Catholic churches and schools. In late May, vandals broke into and ransacked St. Rose of Lima parish school in Maywood, a small city in Los Angeles County, scrawling “666” on walls and driving a knife into the face of a painting of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Maywood-Cudahy Police Department reported. ? “Further investigation revealed that some of the vandalism was of a heinous nature, and in fact, consistent with a ‘hate crime,’" said the police statement. “The suspect(s) defecated in the auditorium (adjacent to the kitchen area) and wrote ‘666’ on areas of the kitchen, and a cross was displayed in a sacrilegious manner,” police said. Just days before Christmas 2009, vandals knocked over and smashed into pieces a 60-year-old statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary outside Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Woodland – the third time since 2007 the church had been the target of similar crimes. In April 2009, just hours before Easter services were to commence, a vandal or vandals decapitated a statue of the Blessed Virgin outside Santa Monica Catholic Church in Santa Monica, the parish where Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and his wife, Maria Shriver, are members. In early January last year, vandals spray-painted swastikas and the message “Niederauer, Ratzinger – where is the love” on the front walls of Most Holy Redeemer Catholic Church in San Francisco. In late October of 2008, a ciborium containing consecrated hosts was removed from a locked tabernacle and stolen during a burglary at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Watsonville. The thieves also stole a safe that had been bolted to the floor containing $44,400 in cash and checks.From http://www.calcatholic.com/