Emotions ran high for all of us this past August when we got the news that our church had been vandalized. Sadness, frustration, fear, and even anger were coursing through the veins of many. Why would someone do such a thing, and how do we move forward?
Fr. Troha, too, experienced many of these emotions as he tried to grapple with the reality of what had occurred.
“The church is a sanctuary,” Fr. Troha says. “It is a place we should feel safe, a place we come to worship, a place that is our home.”
So the damage done to the church was not only done to the physical grounds of Immaculate Conception but to our hearts as well. Yet, even in his initial sadness and frustration, Fr. Troha recognized the reality that this is nothing new for the Church as a whole.
“The devil does exist,” he says. “And if we are doing our job as Catholics — living the faith well — we are going to be persecuted.”
With that in mind, Fr. Troha immediately went to work, calling on people for help as he needed to repair the damage that had been done.
On the first thing Saturday morning, immediately following the incident, the maintenance crew arrived and began cleaning things up. Then, parishioner after parishioner showed up to help.
“There was quite a crew!” Fr. Troha says. “The people of Immaculate Conception are a stewardship people. They serve the parish well, and this was no exception!”
In addition, Fr. Troha immediately notified the vicar for clergy — the bishop’s right-hand man — who notified the bishop.
“I asked him what I needed to do,” Fr. Troha says. “He told me it was considered a desecration because it was a holy place, so we needed to offer prayers of reparation.”
Fr. Troha and Fr. Dennis McNeil went to the church together to offer prayers and sprinkle holy water throughout the church.
“The devil runs from holy water,” Fr. Troha says. “Reparation has taken place. I encourage everyone to forgive the young man and pray for him. I encourage you to be grateful for the many things we do have in our parish as we continue to work to return the church to the hospitable environment it was before.”
Though it has been cleaned, the carpet will soon be replaced and the windows that were damaged around the church will be repaired or replaced. The crucifix in the chapel was destroyed beyond repair, so it will be buried and a new one will be ordered. The statue of Mary that was damaged will soon be fixed, and the angel statue will be bought anew! We will get there!
So many people are readily helping, and Fr. Troha is eager to repair all the damage as quickly as possible. In the meantime, take heart! God is with us! He has not abandoned us — quite the contrary, in fact! If we look around, the work of God is so evident among us — even in the midst of such a tragedy!
On Aug. 26, Fr. Troha celebrated a Mass offered for reparation. Many parishioners attended, and together we prayed for the life of the young man who committed these violent acts and for the healing of our parish community.
God is good, all the time! May our continued acts of repairing the church bring glory and honor to Him!