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Pastor Calls Vandalism At Hayward Church A 'Hate Crime'

HAYWARD (KPIX 5) -- A disturbing scene was recently found outside a church in Hayward where statues of children were found beheaded.

For 60 years those who attend St. Bede's Catholic Church in Hayward have passed by a group of statues out front depicting Mary's appearance to the children of Fatima.

But lately, they've become a symbol of man's cruelty.

"I'm just heartbroken to see how this happened," said one young parishioner.

"How? What heart do you have that could do this?" said an outraged older woman who attends the church.

A few weeks ago, a vandal defaced the statues, breaking off Mary's hands and the heads of the three children and a lamb. It's not the first time it's happened.  The statues have been damaged three times in the last few years.

When asked why he thought someone would do something like this, eight-year old parishioner Lucia Wright replied, "I don't know. Probably he's a hater or something."

"It is a shame that someone could come over here and actually do all this. I mean, they don't have no heart…," said St. Bede's parishioner George Silva.

Whatever the motivation, the church's pastor Fr. Seamus Farrell says this fits the very definition of a hate crime.

"It's an attack on the faith of the people, the faith of all of us. It's not simply a physical thing. It attacks our heart and mocks what we believe in," said Farrell.

The senseless attack has angered the congregation and become a test of their willingness to forgive those who trespass against them.

"My heart goes out to all of us who are suffering, but also to those who in their blindness, whatever it may be, caused this destruction," said Farrell.

 The pastor says the statues can and will be repaired.

The pastor is considering whether the shrine has to be moved but says he would prefer to keep it open and visible as an inspiration to the public.


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