Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Doylestown will meet recent acts of vandalism at its church with a powerful act of prayer this Saturday.
As at many Catholic churches during October’s Respect Life Month, the Bucks County church had displayed 61 white wooden crosses, each about three feet high and visible to area motorists, commemorating the millions of unborn lives lost to abortion in the United States since 1973.
Last Saturday night, Oct. 12, unknown vandals uprooted 40 of the crosses, broke them and stacked them in two piles, according to parishioners later observing the scene. Two other signs reading “Stop surgical abortions” were stolen.
In response, parishioners will hold a Rosary Rally for Life Saturday, Oct. 19 at 12 noon at the intersection of Durham and Cold Spring Creamery roads in Doylestown, where the crosses had been placed.
Everyone from the region is invited to attend the public witness to the sanctity of life and respect for religious freedom.
Last week’s incident was only the most recent of what the parish’s pastor, Msgr. Joseph Gentili, described as a “new wave of hate crimes” in the past two weeks.
The parish’s outdoor sign for its Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) — an educational process in which people learn more about the Catholic faith often in preparation to be baptized or to join in full communion with the church — was vandalized.
In his letter to parishioners dated Oct. 14, Msgr. Gentili informed them of the crimes and his intention to work with Buckingham Township police to bring the perpetrators to justice. He said both incidents have been filed “as a hate crime, in addition to trespassing and destruction of property,” he wrote. “I can assure you that should the perpetrator(s) be caught, they will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”
The pastor said the parish had recently installed more than 40 security cameras on its campus.
He pledged that the display of crosses would be installed again “as soon as possible and will be displayed until the end of the month,” as has been done in previous years.
Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, Msgr. Gentili wrote, has a “simple and poignant message to express our respect for human life and to urge others to join with us in bringing the tragedy of abortion to an end.”
That message, he said, “apparently is not appreciated nor shared by some others in our local community. Be that as it may be, it is sad and lamentable that we continue to struggle for the right to live and express ourselves in a democratic society that is supposed to take pride in basic and fundamental freedoms.”
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