It happened inBowling Green, MO:
The pastor of a local Catholic Church parish has a message for the Bowling Green community after someone vandalized the St. Clement Catholic Church in Bowling Green. “In dealing with the feelings we have in the wake of the attack and desecration of our church last night, we must now give strong Christian witness within our community and parish,” Father Bill Peckman wrote in a message on Facebook. “We must pray for those who perpetrated this attack. We cannot give into the anger or fear, such as an attack can muster. We cannot respond to sin with sin. We will rise above this and show not only the larger community but the attacker themselves that the fullness of God’s mercy can be found at St. Clement.” Peckman ended his message to parishioners encouraging them to not speculate as to events of the late night hours of Saturday, July 23 and the early morning hours of Sunday, July 24. According to a St. Clement church member, human feces was spread throughout the church including on holy sacraments and on the Bible itself. Wine was reportedly also spilled or poured on linens and other vestments of the church. In an interview with the Times, Pike County Sheriff Stephen Korte said that he could not confirm what specific items had been damaged or how extensive the damage was to the various items. According to the county sheriff, many of the damaged items had already been removed from the church by parishioners by the time he and his deputies arrived.
The community gathered for a prayer service last night. Please remember this parish in your prayers. The pastor’s Facebook page last night contained this message:
I have no doubt that we will walk away from this stronger. We can never let evil done to us to define us. We continue to pray for this person (s) responsible as our time is better spent praying for them than being angry at them.
It also featured a short video of the prayer service, with parishioners singing “They’ll Know We Are Christians By Our Love.”
Here’s a good overview of what happens after an event like this:
Reparation for the desecration is to be carried out with a penitential rite celebrated as soon as possible. Until that time, no sacred rite may be celebrated in the church. Preaching to prepare for the penitential rite may be carried out. The people are encouraged to avail themselves of the sacrament of reconciliation, which should be celebrated in another church. To symbolize penance, the Ceremonial recommends: “The altar of the church should be stripped bare and all customary signs of joy and gladness should be put away, for example, lights flowers, and other such articles.” It is fitting that the bishop presides at the rite of reparation, which may be either a celebration of the Eucharist or a Liturgy of the Word as circumstances suggest. It may be celebrated on any day except the Easter triduum, Sundays and solemnities, but may be celebrated on the vigil of a Sunday. The Mass of reparation is the preferred mode. The most suitable Mass formula may be chosen; for example: the votive Mass of the holy Eucharist (in cases of profanation of the Blessed Sacrament) or for promoting harmony in the case of violent clashes. There are several forms of carrying out the rite. One is a procession of the people from a nearby church or another suitable place during which prayer and the litany of the saints is sung, including the patron of the desecrated church and other prayers found in the Roman ritual. If a procession is not possible, then the people gather in the church and the bishop and other ministers enter from the sacristy. On entering the church, the bishop along with concelebrants and other ministers goes to the chair without reverencing the altar. He then blesses water, and after a moment of silent prayer sprinkles the altar. He may also sprinkle the people and the walls. Returning to the chair, and with hands joined, he invites those present to pray. After a brief silent prayer, the bishop recites the opening prayer with hands outstretched. The readings usually come from the Mass for the forgiveness of sins, unless other more suitable readings are chosen. Appropriate general intercessions are prayed only if the litany of the saints has not been used. After this, the deacon and other ministers place the altar cloth and the other usual elements upon the altar and may place flowers around it. The procession of the gifts follows the bishop receiving them at the chair. When everything is ready, the bishop goes to the altar and kisses it and the Mass continues in the usual manner. In the case of desecration of the Eucharist, the concluding rites of Mass are replaced by exposition, adoration and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.
UPDATE: Local media report there is an arrest. Details:
According to the probable cause statement filed with the Pike County Circuit Court Clerk’s office, Linda M. Howard, 54, of Bowling Green, entered the church shortly before midnight on Saturday, July 23, with the intent to vandalize the church. As was previously reported by the Times, human feces was spread throughout the church including on holy sacraments and on the Bible itself. Wine was reportedly also spilled or poured on linens and other vestments of the church. In total, authorities say the damage to the church and the contents exceeds $750. The damage was reportedly discovered when a visiting priest began to prepare the church for the 9 a.m. Sunday Mass.