Vandals destroy Catholic church property

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Parishioners of a Westside Catholic church say vandals destroyed items on its property, including a fountain that was shattered into pieces.

It happened at Most Holy Redeemer Catholic Church off Normandy Boulevard, west of Interstate 295 and the Normandy Village Shopping Center.

The damage stretched for about 125 yards from the courtyard to the front door. The water pipes below the fountain were busted as well.

IMAGES:  Vandalism at Most Holy Redeemer

Father Tim Lozier estimated the damage to be in the thousands.

"It's one more small little thing that kind of breaks down. Where is our sense of community, where is our sense of being there for each other? That's a sad thing," said Lozier.

A parishioner first spotted the damage about 8:30 a.m. Monday as he was preparing for a funeral service. He made his way across the property and saw chairs and benches tossed and overturned, broken planter boxes, a crack in a cross and a busted water fountain.

Church members said they feel violated, and for one woman, the attack was very personal.

"The security has been taken away," said Leigh Robinson who calls the church her home away from home. "It just really bothers me that people could be so callous and so rude and have nothing better to do than to destroy other people's property."

Most Holy Redeemer does not have any security cameras and they don't know who would want to target them. Lozier said his congregation will pray for the vandals to come forward and do the right thing.

"I'd like them to know that their actions have some serious consequences for other people," said Lozier.

Robinson said they are upset about the damage, and it will hurt them financially, but the congregation will not let these vandals get the best of them.

"They think they hurt this parish by doing this, no. We're going to draw together and come back stronger," said Robinson.

Father Lozier said he's been in touch with the insurance company and has quite a bit to sort out, but said he's thankful no one was hurt.

"It impacts our whole ministry and getting things done, paying our bills in terms of the thousands of dollars, and the personal time and effort that will go into assessing, making insurance claims and making the repairs," said Lozier.

Lozier said he is now thinking about how he can work security cameras into the budget.

Church services will not be impacted. The next service is set for Tuesday at 7 p.m.

Copyright 2013 by All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.