MILFORD (CBS) – Milford Police have made multiple arrests after a Catholic church was broken into and vandalized overnight.
The custodial staff at Saint Mary of the Assumption Parish discovered the damage and mess when they opened the church Friday morning. The sacristy has been ransacked, and broken sacramental items were strewn throughout the church.
“I was sick to my stomach,” said The Rev. Peter Joyce, church pastor.
The parish’s morning Mass had to relocate as the place of worship became a crime scene. Church leaders soon learned there was video evidence that had been posted by the perpetrators themselves.
“Some of the videos I was told about they had vestments on and were on the altar and smoking marijuana downstairs. Playing the piano,” said Rev. Joyce.
Milford Police arrested 21-year-old Michael Clifford and three juvenile friends. They’re charged with two counts of malicious destruction of property; trespassing, breaking and entering, causing injury to a church over $5,000, larceny from a building, conspiracy, and civil rights violation.
Now Rev. Joyce is asking devastated parishioners to forgive the suspects, who will face a judge and a much higher power.
“The damage to our church was minimal. These are very lost and wounded souls. There are many like them in our world. The church can be fixed. A soul that’s lost, we need to help them find their way to God,” he said.
The Blessed Sacrament was not desecrated. Rev. Joyce did have to go through the process of restoring the sanctity of our church. Weekend Masses will happen as they normally do.