Just hours before one of its busiest days of the year, Saint Benedict Catholic Church was vandalized with red spray paint, marking up its stained-wood front doors and covering its sign with an obscene phrase.
Members of the Clayton Park parish found the vandalism when they arrived early Sunday morning to prepare for their Easter Mass services, the first beginning at 9 a.m.
“I got the message an hour before mass started,” explained Father Simon Lobo, who has been the church’s pastor for nearly a year.
Lobo said that vandals defacing their building is something that has taken place in the past, although it was before his time at Saint Benedict.
Although it’s the type of thing that will always strike a nerve, that feeling was magnified given the timing.
“Being Easter weekend it’s a particular slight to mock the resurrection of Jesus,” he said.
Despite not having a great deal of time to prepare before welcoming hundreds of people, the spray paint was virtually unnoticeable to those attending the early service.
“There’s so many great people here at the parish,” he said. “They took care of it before I got in.”
“Thanks to all those who pitched in right away to help out,” Lobo said.
Lobo indicated upon receiving the news, he immediately felt forgiveness for the vandals, calling it “a minor distraction from so much to celebrate.”
“The words that came to me were from Jesus himself where he says ‘father forgive them for they know not what they do,'” he said.
“I just want to say if the vandals are out there,” he added. “We love you and we forgive you.”