Suspect caught on camera vandalizing Pennsylvania Catholic church


Downingtown Police are searching for a suspect who vandalized four statues at St. Joseph Parish over the weekend of Dec. 10 and Dec. 11. / (left photo) John Bossong III; (right photo)Downingtown Police Department

Boston, Mass., Dec 14, 2022 / 16:15 pm (CNA).

Four statues at St. Joseph Parish in Downingtown, Pennsylvania, were vandalized overnight between Dec. 10 and Dec. 11, and police are asking for help identifying a suspect caught on camera.

Father Stephen Leva, the pastor of the church, said in an online post Dec. 11 that the four statues affected were of St. Anthony, St. Joseph, Our Lady of Lourdes, and the Holy Family.

Leva told CNA in an email Wednesday that the statues of St. Anthony and St. Joseph are “completely destroyed.” The statue of Our Lady of Lourdes was tipped over, but landed safely on the grass without damage, he added.

The statue of the Holy Family is bent to the side, but is being kept in place by a metal bar, he said. No graffiti, or other messages, were left on the scene. It’s unclear what the cost of damages will be, he said.

The Downingtown Police Department asked for the public’s assistance Tuesday in identifying the perpetrator who was caught on camera.

Those photos of the perpetrator can be seen on the department’s Facebook page.

Police said that the perpetrator also vandalized Downingtown West High School. The school is about a two-minute drive from the parish.

“Please keep the persons responsible for this vandalism in your prayers. We ask that God touch their hearts,” Leva said in the post.

“For ourselves, we take a moment to thank God for the opportunity to practice forgiveness. His mercy is unending and as Christians, we are called to forgive as He forgives,” the post said.

The post said that a Nativity display remained unharmed.

“Even in our cynical world, the miracle of the Nativity remains untouched,” the post said.

The church is the second largest parish in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia with more than 5,000 families, according to the parish’s website.

John Bossong, a longtime parishioner at the church, told CNA Wednesday that he hoped the perpetrator is caught and is saddened by the vandalism.

“Why? Why would you do this?” he questioned the vandals’ motivation.

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