Churches vandalized in Vancouver archdiocese

Pro-Life memorial A pro-life memorial at St. Joseph's church in Port Moody, Canada, that was vandalized June 13, 2021./ St. Joseph's Catholic Church.

Two parishes in the Archdiocese of Vancouver were vandalized last weekend.

The incidents come shortly after the discovery of the remains of 215 indigenous children in unmarked graves at the Kamloops Indian Residential School.

At St. Augustine's parish in Vancouver on June 12, vandals wrote ‘release the records’ and ‘killers’ on the front door of the church.

A parishioner at St. Augustine’s told Global News in an interview that the incident was sad. “We had nothing to do with what happened with those poor kids,” the parishioner said. 

St. Joseph’s Church in Port Moody, about 10 miles east of Vancouver, was also found vandalized the morning of June 13. A pro-life memorial gravestone was knocked to the ground, while the stone on which it was standing has been broken.

Fr. Mark McGuckin, pastor of St. Joseph’s, told CNA around the same time the memorial was knocked over, new building developments next to the parish had been burning down in what likely was an incident of arson. 

McGuckin considered himself and his church community “very fortunate and blessed” because of the damp weather conditions. “The fire was so hot that flying embers landed on our church roof,” he told CNA, “and had it been three weeks of real dry season that could have really caught on fire.”

“I think it's unrelated,” Fr. McGuckin said, doubting the connection between the vandalism at St. Augustine’s and the vandalism at his church. “We would have had clearer messaging around the residential school if that was someone who wanted to express themselves that way.”

The pro-life gravestone has been temporarily fixed but lays at a 45 degree angle, while it awaits full refurbishment.

Fr. McGuckin told CNA that over the weekend, there had been peaceful protests at Catholic churches in the area.

On the weekend of May 22, the remains of 215 indigenous children were found in unmarked graves at the Kamloops Indian Residential School. The discovery was made with ground-penetrating radar. It is unclear how the children died.

St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Kamloops was vandalized following the discovery. Graffiti reading ‘banished’, ‘evicted’, and ‘crime scene’ was found spray painted on the walls of St. Joseph’s May 31. An ‘X’ was on the front doors.

The chief of the Tk̓emlúps te Secwépemc, or Kamloops Indian Band, has condemned the vandalism of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Kamloops shortly after the discovery of indigenous children’s graves at a nearby Church-run residential school.

“We are deeply disturbed to learn that the Saint Joseph’s church was vandalized. The church was built from the ground up by Tk̓emlúps te Secwépemc members. We understand the many emotions connected to a Roman Catholic run residential school. At the same time, we respect the choices that Tk̓emlúps te Secwépemc ancestors made, over a 100 years ago, to erect this church,” read a May 31 statement from Rosanne Casimir, the band’s chief.

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