Summer crime wave targeted Catholic churches

Priest shot with paint balls, a stained glass window smashed, a church set on fire, and a parish tagged with hate speech

(image from Inland Catholic byte)

A priest shot, a stained glass window smashed, a church set on fire, and a parish tagged with hate speech.

These incidents are all part of a summer crime wave that has targeted Catholic churches and personnel in the Diocese of San Bernardino.

During the last three months, at least four parishes and one priest came under siege, mirroring a worldwide surge in crimes against the Church. Perhaps the most shocking, a paintball assault on Father Zhaojun “Jerome” Bai, S.V.D., in Riverside on August 2nd.

Having just celebrated the anniversary of a fellow S.V.D. priest, Fr. Bai was walking to his car parked near Queen of Angels Church when another vehicle pulled up from behind.

“I heard four or five sounds. I thought it was gunshots.”

Fr. Bai was hit in the eyes, causing his glasses to shatter and cut his face. He ran back to the parish for help and ultimately received stitches for his injuries.

Police say six other people were hit as the shooters rampaged across Riverside. At press time, no arrests had been made.

In late August, vandals hurled a large rock through a stained glass window at St. Bernardine Church in San Bernardino and scratched anti-Catholic language on its front sign. Vandals also targeted La Quinta’s St. Francis of Assisi in July, scrawling occult symbols in the parish hall and kitchen. Just the month before, Queen of Angels, still enjoying its new 1,600-seat church, was hit. The anti-Catholic graffiti was discovered by Father Beni Leu, S.V.D., parish pastor.

Fr. Leu quickly got help, but not before parishioners witnessed the damage. He says the criminals marked the church both physically and emotionally.

“Some of the parishioners were very sad. They asked ‘Why did they do this? Why did this happen? Why do they hate us?’ ”

The outcry was similar following an arson at Our Lady of the Assumption Parish in San Bernardino. A side door of the church was lit on fire in the early hours of July 17th.

“The people were surprised. They couldn’t believe someone would attempt to do this,” says Father Rogelio Gonzalez. The pastor was also taken aback since he’d only been there two weeks.

“I don’t think I have any enemies that followed me here,” Fr. Gonzalez laughs then continues more seriously. “Well you know, San Bernardino is a hard place,” he says in reference to local crime and poverty.

But his parishioners rallied in support of their church.

“They were more than willing to do whatever was necessary to fix the door,” Fr. Gonzalez said. “I had people coming forward saying ‘Father, I would like to give a donation to fix the door,’ or, ‘I’m a painter and I can fix the door.’

“In a sense, people had a feeling of unity that this was an attack on us and we’re going to pull together and find a solution to this.”

Fr. Bai won’t be deterred from his ministry as Parochial Vicar at St. Catherine of Siena in Rialto. He returned to his office the day after the assault, despite family pleas to return to his native China.

“We can suffer for the faith, for what we believe,” he says. “A long time ago, missionaries would go to other countries and get killed. It’s noble. I’m lucky I can share this mark as a missionary.”

Fr. Bai says he forgives his assailants and can now even joke about it.

“The stitches just removed the wrinkles around my eyes,” he laughs. “It makes me look younger.”

Full story at Inland Catholic Byte.

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  1. The Watchman says:

    The Catholic Church is being targeted because it is the True Body of Christ instituted by Jesus Christ through the Apostle Peter. Every Pope after the Apostle Peter is the new Peter. Brothers and sisters in Christ this story just shows that a sinister persecution of Catholics and Christians is about to take place in America and throughout the western world. We are literally living in the end times. As Saint John Paul ll stated on many occasions “Be not afraid.” Jesus Christ King of Kings Lord of Lords True God and True Man is about to come back in the very near future. We are the last generation spoken about in the Holy Bible that will see the Coming of the Son of Man. Not even the gates of hell will prevail against the Church…

    • William Putnam says:

      In my youth, I was counselled to join any church I wanted, but do not consider the Catholic Church! That planted a seed in me, causing me to wonder why was that church so criticized far more that other “branches” of Christianity. I sought after for the truth……..I became a convert to Holy Mother Church!

  2. The Catholic Church will be designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center during our lifetimes. There will be government persecution of the Church and of faithful Catholics. All because the Church is just about the only remaining institution that still holds to the truth about human sexuality and marriage.

  3. As to the suggestion of armed guards at each Catholic church, I would recommend extreme caution. I’m NOT a lawyer. However, I suspect state law has strict restrictions on the use of deadly force. I’m not confident the average ‘rent a cop’ guard is well enough trained. All the Diocese needs is several expensive lawsuits [and the attendant publicity ] for an innocent bystander wounded or killed under unjustified circumstances.

  4. The Watchman says:

    Covfefe you are right Sister Lucia of Fatima did state that the last battle between devil and the Church will be over marriage. There will be a physical persecution of Catholics and Christians who uphold traditional views on the marriage of husband and wife or man and woman. What all this means is Jesus Christ King of Kings Lord of Lords True God and True Man will come soon like a thief in the night. We are literally living in most exciting times because biblical prophecy is being fulfilled as I write this post. And remember well that not even the gates of hell will prevail against the Catholic Church which is the True Body of Christ. Look up for your redemption draweth near. In the end the Immaculate Heart of of Mother Mary will…

  5. The Watchman says:

    To conclude my last sentence in my prior post. In the end the the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mother Mary will take place.

  6. God please heal Father Bai. Grant peace and healing to all parishes. Give all the strength to respond as You do.

  7. A missionary *from* Communist China: 1.4 billion people, only a few million Catholics. Hmm.

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