Fr. Joseph Krupp guided his flock through the vandalism of their church with decisive instructions to engage the good intentions of the community.
On September 5, the Church of the Holy Family in Grand Blanc, Michigan, became the most recent US church to be vandalized. An unnamed individual gained entry to the church, where he desecrated sacred objects. As the parish accounted for all the damages, however, Fr. Joseph Krupp, pastor of the church, sent a message to the community on X (formerly Twitter).
The long-form message explained to the faithful what had occurred and outlined the steps that the parish intended to take in the aftermath of the attack. He explained that someone had found their way into the church in the middle of the night and had broken so many things that they were still discovering damages while the priest was writing the letter.
He did, however, note that an image of the perpetrator was caught on closed-circuit cameras leaving the police a lead to follow. In addition, he shared some other good news, with a bit of humor:
There is more good news:
1. Nothing he broke cannot be replaced.
2. He was not able to get into our school.
3. The beer he took from the hall was really, really old and we were going to throw it away.
4. None of the damage was permanent or makes it so we can’t live our mission.
As far as an explanation for why the man would enter the church and begin with, let alone wreak havoc on the small parish, a motive has yet to be revealed. Fr. Krupp noted, however, that there has been an alarming increase in instances of vandalism against Catholic churches in the last two years:
“My thesis at University was on the History of Catholics in this country and I can tell you that Catholic Churches are being vandalized and desecrated at a rate we’ve not seen since pre Civil War days. It seems this is part of our life now and we will deal with it with grace, mercy and dignity.”
While the damage has been done, Fr. Krupp acknowledged that the Catholic parish community still wanted to do something to help. Here, the pastor gives excellent guidance to his flock, offering a host of suggestions for ways that Catholics could get involved in the effort to assuage the uncertainties after such a violation of a sacred space.
First and foremost, Fr. Krupp called on his congregation to pray, and invited them to attend Friday morning Mass, where they asked God to forgive the perpetrator and heal any spiritual damage done. He also noted that any sacred objects that were defiled must be buried and replaced.
His most important direction was to continue to pray for the one who was responsible for the damages:
“Third, and this is most important: We will pray for those who did these things and we will love them. Whatever his motives, if he even had any, these people are our patients, not our enemies and it is our duty as lovers of Jesus to act like Jesus did.” Fr. Krupp added, “To be clear, I must remind us all that this is not an option Jesus offers us, this is a command He gives us.”
He reiterated that Catholics are called to love their neighbors, even when wronged. He urged his community to forgive them and allow them to seek reconciliation with the church, which welcomes all those who have sinned to take part in the faith community. He concluded by reminding his flock of the mission of the Church: “To worship God, grow in love and knowledge of the faith, care for those in need, and invite others into a relationship with Christ.”
“That’s it. That is why Holy Family Catholic Church exists and we are fine. I thank you for reading this and I thank Jesus every day that I get to be your priest. I’m the most blessed man in the world because of you.”
Finding your parish has been vandalized is disheartening and can feel out of control. Fr. Krupp, however, took back control with his decisive message that both explained the situation and engaged his community with tangible ways that they could direct their efforts and good intentions. Fr. Krupp sets the example for priestly leadership in a time of crisis and we should all be so lucky to have pastors as forthright and faithful as they do at the Church of the Holy Family.