Arrest made in connection with vandalism of Nebraska Catholic church

vandalism Travis Ross, 32, was arrested April 6 by the Otoe County Sheriff’s Office in connection with the vandalism at St. Paulinus Catholic Church in Syracuse, Nebraska. | Otoe County Sheriff’s Office

An arrest has been made in connection with the vandalism of St. Paulinus Catholic Church in Syracuse, Nebraska, that occurred on Palm Sunday weekend. 

Travis Ross, 32, was arrested April 6 by the Otoe County Sheriff’s Office after video evidence and witnesses led authorities to name him a suspect. 

Father Ryan Salisbury, St. Paulinus’ pastor, told CNA April 3 that when he walked into the church on April 1, he discovered that the altar had been tipped over, a statue desecrated, and several other objects damaged. 

A Sacred Heart of Jesus statue was also broken beyond repair and candlesticks were damaged as well as the altar stone. The damage amounted to $5,000, he said. The tabernacle and the Eucharist remained untouched.

“It happened in Our Lord’s own Holy Week. His own journey was marked by injustice, by brokenness, and by damage done to his own body, and that was allowed to happen here in Syracuse in some ways,” Salisbury said at the time.

Ross has been charged with criminal mischief and criminal trespass. The investigation is ongoing, according to the sheriff’s office.

St. Paulinus wasn’t the only Catholic Church to be vandalized on Palm Sunday weekend. 

In Corona, California, a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe was smashed in half at Corpus Christi Catholic Church on April 1. 

“It was very heartbreaking, especially coming at the beginning of Holy Week,” Maria Bravo, the parish office manager, told CNA in a statement Thursday. 

“A lot of parishioners were very emotional about it. They brought flowers. Many offered to help in whatever way they could,” she said. 

A male suspect was caught on security cameras walking up to the statue and pulling it down, according to John Andrews, communications director for the Diocese of San Bernardino.

In a statement on Twitter, the diocese wrote: “This past weekend Corpus Christi, Corona, had their Our Lady of Guadalupe statue vandalized. We offer our prayers to the Patroness of our diocese, Our Lady of Guadalupe, to be with the community of Corpus Christi at this time. Please keep them all in your #prayers

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