For seven months, working in sometimes 100-degree weather, a California Catholic volunteer worked to restore a statue of Jesus that was vandalized in March.
St. Mel’s Catholic Church in Woodland Hills, California, was one of about 100 U.S. churches that have been vandalized or set on fire this year in a growing spate of crime. Many pro-life organizations also have been attacked.
On March 19, Father Steve Davoren discovered the vandalism during an early morning walk with his dog, according to the Catholic News Agency. Someone repeatedly smashed a large statue of Jesus and three children, and pieces of it were strewn all over the ground.
Church business manager Lisa Feliciano told CNA that the estimated repair cost was $30,000, but parishioner Michael Stucchi, a systems software engineer and church fix-it man, offered to restore it for free.
“As a priest’s sacrifice and commitment are beyond my comprehension or capabilities, having seen their dedication and that of the other volunteers and staff, I felt it’s the least I can do,” Stucchi said. “Notwithstanding, the Catholic Church was always there for me when I was a child and young adult.”
Feliciano said Stucchi worked with her to research the statue and examine photos of the image in its original state. According to the report, the statue stands about 6 feet high and weighs almost 2,000 pounds.
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She praised the man’s dedication, noting how he worked in sometimes 100-degree weather to fix the statue.
Stucchi said the damage to Christ’s image broke his heart as he remembered how much Jesus suffered for humanity. But he said Father Davoren also reminded him to have compassion for the hurting individual who committed the crime.
“Father Steve’s compassion is what Jesus would want us to have. All the people who work here are in the same mindset of love and forgiveness. We have no idea what terrible things are in that person’s life,” Stucchi told CNA.
Feliciano said Stucchi has been a huge blessing to the church, redeeming an act of hate with compassion and joy.
“Look at the difference between someone filled with hate and destruction … and then someone like Michael who spends his time showing pure love and joy putting it back together,” she told CNA. “Both are our neighbors, they live among us. How can there be such a vast difference in someone’s heart and soul?”
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops keeps track of attacks on Catholic churches; it reported at least 172 incidents in the U.S. since 2020.
LifeNews, The Daily Signal and other conservative news outlets also have been reporting about attacks this year related to the abortion issue. According to the Daily Signal, 86 Catholic churches and 74 pro-life organizations have been victims of firebombs, vandalism and other attacks since May.