July 08, 2008
Vandalism at All Saints

This is my neighborhood church, where Olivia and Audrey got baptized.

In a shady grotto filled with plants, lilacs and daffodils, parishioners at All Saints Catholic Church would sometimes stop to pray and reflect before an Our Lady of Lourdes statue.

It was a tranquil scene -- until Palm Sunday when the statue was knocked down and broken. Two replacement statues, both of Our Lady of Guadalupe, have since been defaced or destroyed.

The latest incident happened outside the church on East 10th in the Heights late Friday or early Saturday.

A spray-painted message left on a church sidewalk in March during the second incident -- "You have been warned. Don't worship idols." -- has parish officials worried that they are being subjected to anti-Catholic hate crimes, not mere vandalism.

"It sounds like that," said Dan Schwieterman, All Saints director of religious education. "It may have deeper roots than vandalism. It may be a fanatic."

Houston police view the first two incidents as hate crimes. Investigators will decide whether the latest attack was a hate crime after completing their probe, said HPD spokesman Victor Senties. Investigators, he said, don't have any suspects.

That just makes me sad. All Saints is both a lovely historic church - it celebrated its centennial last year - and a good community resource. Even if this just turns out to be kids doing the damage, the church doesn't need the expense of fixing repeated damages. I hope the cops catch the offenders quickly.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on July 08, 2008 to Elsewhere in Houston
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