Hundreds of Catholics turned out to an impromptu prayer vigil following the desecration of a statue of Mary at a Sydney church, The Catholic Weekly reports.
The statue was attacked at St Paul of the Cross Church, Dulwich Hill, in the early hours of Monday, with the heads of both Mary and the baby Jesus being severed.
Earlier in the year a statue of St Charbel was also stolen from the church grounds. It is unknown whether the two incidents are related.
Bishop Richard Umbers, who has been parish priest since Easter, said parishioners were “distraught” about the desecration: “Very, very sad. People were crying,” he said.
Hundreds turned out at the church on the evening following the vandalism to pray the Rosary in reparation to God for the senseless act.
“Because of social media things moved so quickly. There were hundreds of people who wanted to pray there and then,” Bishop Umbers said. “It was packed. There were a lot of families and young people.”
During the prayer vigil the crowd recited the Rosary and sang hymns. Bishop Umbers addressed those gathered, saying: “When we love a lot, it hurts a lot. But we’re here to pray in a spirit of reparation and what matters is that we be a light in the darkness, that we show our love and that we be free from sin. Because it’s an offence against God so that’s why we’re making reparation.”
Tony Mattar from Catholic Chaplaincy at Sydney University who helped organise the vigil said he was motivated by his Maronite Catholic faith which entails a strong devotion to Our Lady.
He said the aim of the vigil was to “unite to show we won’t stand for this type of behaviour” and to emphasise that the response should be made through “praying and not through violence.” The parish has been inundated with offers of help including of funds to replace the statues.
Catholics pray after vandals hit (The Catholic Weekly)