MAYWOOD, California, MAY 27, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The Parish of St. Rose of Lima in Maywood will hold a prayer meeting Friday for those who attacked an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe and burned and destroyed an image of Christ.
The attack, which is being called a “crime of hatred,” took place Monday morning in the parish school, which is located in Los Angelus County. The image of Our Lady was stabbed repeatedly in the body and the face, an image of Christ was burned and then knocked into pieces, and “666” was marked on the walls. The vandals also ransacked several areas of the school.
“We still don’t know if we will restore the image of the Virgin […] or if we will repair the Christ,” said Father David Velazquez, parish priest of the Church of St. Rose of Lima.
“What is most certain is that we will leave them as they are, as a reminder of the attack suffered and to show that we are all the body of Christ and that, no matter how much they attack or hate us, we are not going to give up our mission to defend our faith and our community,” added Father Velazquez, an immigrant priest from Monterrey, Mexico, who has lived in the United States for 15 years.
The Maywood police appealed to the community for it’s cooperation in apprehending those responsible, and it is actively reviewing the evidence that could lead to the arrest of at least two suspects. They have reason to believe the vandals entered the church at dawn to carry out a ritual very similar to a “satanic act.”
“Some of the vandalism was of a heinous nature, and in fact, consistent with a ‘hate crime,'” a statement from the police department said.
“During this process, we are revising the security video and we have gathered several pieces of evidence that could lead us to those responsible for this crime of hatred,” said Maywood’s chief of police, Frank Hauptmann, who has given priority to some inquiries that have added fuel to all sorts of speculations.
“Up to now we don’t know the motive for this hatred attack,” said Father Velazquez.
“We don’t know the persons’ motives. Perhaps they wanted to carry out a satanic ritual. Perhaps they wished to leave us a message. Perhaps they only wanted to offend us in what is most sacred to us.”
“They shot me. They broke the glass of the windows of the rectory. They have taken my license. They have threatened me,” the priest added.
The incident at St. Rose of Lima has worried the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, which subsequently asked Father Velazquez to “reinforce security and take extreme precautions.”
Ana Rosa Rizo, mayor of Maywood, also called the attack an “act of hatred.”
“Our community is united against this attack of hatred against our shrine,” she said. “And we are going to do everything possible for our community to collaborate with the police to try to arrest those responsible as soon as possible.”