Pray with Fr. Bill Peckman Tonight at 7:00 PM CST

Pray with Fr. Bill Peckman Tonight at 7:00 PM CST

St-Clement-PicPlease join our Fr. Bill Peckman tonight at 7:00 PM CST, as he prays with his parishioners in their vandalized church.

Here is the story from the Bowling Green Times …

St. Clement Catholic Church Defaced and Vandalized Overnight

The Father of a local Catholic Church parish has a message for the Bowling Green community after someone vandalized the St. Clement Catholic Church in Bowling Green.

“In dealing with the feelings we have in the wake of the attack and desecration of our church last night, we must now give strong Christian witness within our community and parish,” Father Bill Peckman wrote in a message on Facebook. “We must pray for those who perpetrated this attack. We cannot give into the anger or fear, such as an attack can muster. We cannot respond to sin with sin. We will rise above this and show not only the larger community but the attacker themselves that the fullness of God’s mercy can be found at St. Clement.”

A special, inter-faith prayer vigil at St. Clement Catholic Church has been scheduled for Sunday, July 24, at 7 p.m.

Peckman ended his message to parishioners encouraging them to not speculate as to events of the late night hours of Saturday, July 23 and the early morning hours of Sunday, July 24.

According to a St. Clement church member, human feces was spread throughout the church including on holy sacraments and on the Bible itself. Wine was reportedly also spilled or poured on linens and other vestments of the church.

In an interview with the Times, Pike County Sheriff Stephen Korte said that he could not confirm what specific items had been damaged or how extensive the damage was to the various items. According to the county sheriff, many of the damaged items had already been removed from the church by parishioners by the time he and his deputies arrived.

Korte said he did not believe the removal of the items from the church and having the items cleaned by the members would hinder his investigation.

The sheriff said that he and his department would be relying on someone coming forward because “someone out there knows something about what happened.”

The vandalism was discovered when a visiting Father began to prepare the church for the 9 a.m. Sunday Mass.

Korte said that the church was not locked after the Saturday evening Mass. Korte said that leaving the church building unlocked was not unusual and was designed for the those that need to pray to access the church.

On Sunday afternoon, church members were changing the locks to the building and working to clean the interior of the church.

Is This A Hate Crime?

Since the discovery of the damage, church and community members members have taken to social media to voice concerns that the church was targeted and was the site of a hate crime.

A hate crime is legally defined in the state, as a crime that is motivated by racial, sexual, or other prejudice, including religious beliefs.

According to an employee with the Pike County Sheriff’s Department, who spoke with the Times on the condition of anonymity, the county’s law enforcement agency is not investigating it as a hate crime at this time.

The same official said the department currently does not currently have a suspect for the vandalism and encouraged those with information about the incidents at St. Clement Catholic Church to call the Pike County Sheriff’s Department at 324-3202 or to contact the City of Bowling Green Police Department at 324-3200.

Shortly after 3:45 p.m. on Sunday, officials announced that they were looking for the drivers of a maroon and silver Dodge truck that was seen parked at the St. Clement Catholic Church on Saturday evening at 11:30 p.m. The Dodge truck is described as an older model vehicle, with maroon paint on the top and bottom of the vehicle and silver in the middle.

Is the vandalism connected to a previous theft from the church?

This is the second incident that has occurred at St. Clement over the summer of 2016.

Prior to the St. Clement Picnic, which is held annually in July, an unknown person entered the church and removed a hand stitched quilt that was to be raffled off at the picnic. The individual, or individuals, also stole food items that were to be donated to a local food pantry and a bottle of communion wine.

On Saturday, Pike County Sheriff Stephen Korte said he did not see how the two were related.

This is a developing story which will be updated as more information becomes available.

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