Giving love to fight hate
UNION CITY, Bay Area, California—Union City Police continue its investigation on the vandalism committed against Saint Anne Catholic Church on Dyer and Cabello Sts. last February 22 with hardly any lead, let alone a single suspect.
“The police have received phoned-in tips, but apparently no solid leads,” St. Anne parish priest, Rev. Fr. Geoffrey Baraan told FilAm Star. “I am very much interested to know who they are and why they did it.”
Fr. Geoffrey said he is committed to pray for, and forgive, the offender or offenders if he ever meets them face to face, but was quick to add that the law will hold the culprits accountable. “I and the community cannot do anything about that, especially that the police is classifying this as a hate crime,” he said.
But what he and the entire parish have taken up as top-priority task is the restoration and repair of the damage the church property has sustained. The wooden cross, broken off its footing, has been replaced; the black spray paint on the faces of St. Joseph and Virgin Mary statues have been cleaned off; and the spray-painted inverted pentagrams on church walls, with the words, ‘Carpe Noctem’ and ‘Satan’ have now been covered with fresh paint. The stone tablet of the Seven Beatitudes, likewise knocked off its base, was scheduled to be restored this week.
Fr. Geoffrey was quick to note that the restoration process has generated so much support and sympathy not just from parishioners themselves, but also from people of various faiths from as far as New York, Washington DC, San Diego, Los Angeles,and even the Philippines.
“Not only were the damaged religious figures and icons restored for free, but there were even offers to repaint the whole Church pro bono. The original maker of the tablet of the Seven Beatitudes, Bras and Mattos, on the other hand, will be repairing it at no cost to us,” he said to FilAm Star.
Emails, cards, and phone calls have poured into the parish office from the Mormon and Evangelical Churches. Students from the Holy Spirit School sent posters and cards with handwritten notes and drawings about how they sorry they are for what happened to the church. Donations, even just tokens of care and support, have kept coming, too.
According to Fr. Geoffrey, the vandalism was a heartbreaking event, but the results by way of further strengthening the community and its faith have been very heartwarming and overwhelming, to say the least.
“Here’s another proof that love will always triumph over anger and hatred,” Fr. Geoffrey said.
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