.- The parishioners of Holy Cross Church and the Diocese of Monterey, Calif. are “shocked and saddened” after a Sunday vandalism spree damaged irreplaceable items like a baptismal font that the famous missionary Bl. Junipero Serra brought to the area in 1791.
“The Diocese of Monterey is deeply saddened by the apparent hate crime committed against Holy Cross Church in Santa Cruz last weekend,” diocese spokesman Deacon Warren Hoy told CNA May 8.
Damage affected the church, the attached Mission Santa Cruz Museum and the parish’s ministry and outreach building Siena House.
A custodian found the damage early May 6. Police arrived at the church before 7 a.m.
The garden’s baptismal font was so badly damaged and spray painted that the diocese is not sure whether it can be repaired.
The windows were broken with rocks, while the doors and walls were spray painted with “multiple anti-church slogans and symbols,” the Santa Cruz Police Department report on the incident said.
Besides the damage to the baptismal font, other statues were broken or spray painted.
Statues of Junipero Serra and the Virgin Mary had paint poured on them.
The police report describes the crime as felony vandalism.
The graffiti included words like “we all have heathen blood” and a cross encircled by a “no” symbol. One phrase said “This Ohlone land,” an apparent reference to the Ohlone native American tribe.
The vandal or vandals even climbed on the roof to spray paint the church’s bell tower.
Parishioners and parish staff have scrubbed off most of the graffiti, but it is still visible. The damaged statues will require professional restoration.
Deacon Hoy said the attack shocked the area’s Catholics.
“Holy Cross Church is an active member of the Santa Cruz community, with numerous social justice ministries helping people throughout the city, and we can’t understand what would have provoked such a vicious attack,” he said.
The diocese is working with police to identify the vandal or vandals.
“We pray that God will ease their obvious pain and lead them to repent of this terrible crime,” Deacon Hoy said.
“We will continue to work to build up God’s Kingdom here on Earth, and to serve him by serving his people. Mindless acts of vandalism won’t deter us from our mission.”