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Cross, Holy Family Statues Vandalized With Satanic Messages at St. Anne’s Church

It was the first time in the church's history to be vandalized, church officials said.

Updated 1:42 p.m.

Churchgoers were stunned this morning as they arrived for Ash Wednesday mass at St. Anne's Catholic Church.

A vandal struck overnight, knocking over a cross on the church's front lawn, spraypainting over the faces of the Holy Family statues and writing satanic messages.

The vandal, or vandals, wrote "carpe noctem," which is Latin for "seize the night," with a pentagram and "Satan" alongside one of the church's walls and on the second story of the church.

"This is very disturbing that we see this early morning on Ash Wednesday," Fr. Geoffrey Baraan said. "This is a very special time for us."

"I never thought it would happen here. We've always been so friendly and welcoming," he added.

According to Baraan, this is the first time in the church's history that its property has been vandalized.

Peter Petit, a facility worker at the church, discovered the desecrated religious symbols at about 7 a.m. Wednesday.

Baraan wasn't concerned about the physical damage, but the emotional impact the vandalism would cause to its 4,000 members.

"It's more about the emotional damage the community feels when something like this happens," he said.

"Especially on Ash Wednesday when people are supposed to repent their sins," Petit added.

Police crews dusted for evidence as the church's parking lot filled with members arriving for noon mass. Some cried at the sight of vandalism.

"I can't believe that this has happened to our church," church member Olga Villa, 59. "I'm still getting chills."

"It broke our hearts," Jorge Villa, 63, said. He and his wife Olga have been going to the church for more than 30 years, since it was at its original location on Smith Street.

City Council member Pat Gacoscos, also a St. Anne's member of 30 years, attended the Wednesday morning mass where she saw the sacrilegious markings.

"It could happen anywhere -- but here?" Gacoscos said. "I'm very disappointed."

Farah Habad, a youth leader from the Islamic Society of the East Bay mosque on the Union City-Fremont border, visited St. Anne's following its noon mass to offer support and stand in soidarity with the religious community.

"I came to let them know that there's a helping hand," he said.

Though Union City's graffiti buster was on scene to clean the mess, Baraan asked to leave the vandalism to serve as a lesson for today's services.

"I told them that in spite of all these things, don't react with anger but with love and prayer," Baraan said. "We need to react in a Christian way and pray for those who hate us."

"Hopefully it will not happen in other communities and institutions," he added.

According to the Union City Police Department, no similar incidents have yet been reported in Union City.

The case is being classified as a hate crime, said Cmdr. Ben Horner.

"We will be reaching out to other agencies to see if there are samiliar vandalisms in the area, not only locally but statewide," Horner said.

"We believe it’s an isolated incident and have no reason to believe that it’s attached to an organized group," he added.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Union City Police Department at 510-471-1365. Anonymous tips can be left at 510-675-5207 or by emailing tips@unioncity.org.

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David Minh Dồng February 22, 2012 at 11:13 PM
This is just sickening...
Liz February 22, 2012 at 11:27 PM
I've gone to this parish since our wedding in 1978 and am very disturbed about the distruction and vandalism seen today. Our church is an all -inclusive parish, and have an open door policy, welcoming all who want to attend. My husband and I have been active parisheners, joining in our choir, playing music, singing and praying the mass. Whoever did this, please turn yourself in. I'm cannot understand why this was done. Our choir will pray for you and hope you can take a different path in the future, forgiveness is for everyone.
Lisa Beltrame VanScoik February 22, 2012 at 11:53 PM
I received my First Holy Communion at St. Anne's (Smith Street) I attended many a mass there as a child 30 - 40 years ago. When I read this I cried. I live in Wisconsin now, but have such fond memories of my childhood in Union City with St. Anne's being an intregal part of them. I'll pray for everyone who's been hurt by this disgusting act.
Decoto Educated February 23, 2012 at 12:20 AM
PSALM 11 1 In the LORD I take refuge. How then can you say to me: “Flee like a bird to your mountain. 2 For look, the wicked bend their bows; they set their arrows against the strings to shoot from the shadows at the upright in heart. 3 When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” 4 The LORD is in his holy temple; the LORD is on his heavenly throne. He observes everyone on earth; his eyes examine them. 5 The LORD examines the righteous, but the wicked, those who love violence, he hates with a passion. 6 On the wicked he will rain fiery coals and burning sulfur; a scorching wind will be their lot. 7 For the LORD is righteous, he loves justice; the upright will see his face.
Ron February 23, 2012 at 04:40 AM
A very sad situation indeed. These characters have nothing more important to do at night than this? Hopefully, UCPD will soon be able to match the evidence with other "artists" that show their work around Union City.
Ron February 23, 2012 at 04:48 AM
Wow, already with the inappropriate political comments? Do you really think another true Catholic would do this? I think you owe Rick an apology.
Tim February 23, 2012 at 05:13 AM
You're a moron. Santorum is a devout Catholic himself. I doubt politics played a role here. This was done by thugs, plain and simple. But to your logic, maybe when the police figure out who it is and raid their home, just maybe they find Barack Obama's book, or Al Gore's book....
David Minh Dồng February 23, 2012 at 05:20 AM
Ron I highly doubt that the other "artists" around Union City are responsible for this. This looks like it is targeted rather than some character tagging a church for fun. Given the time and date, It seems like a reasonable reason.
ordinary joe February 23, 2012 at 05:26 AM
Tim, It could be Santorum or Gingrich supporteers. Suerely, it is done by teh ditto-heads to blame others. Santorum may be a Catholic just like Mr. Newt but both will go to any depth or low-level to win the nomination. Shame on you ditto-heads.
angie February 23, 2012 at 05:44 AM
Father forgive them for they don't know what they have done.
Tim February 23, 2012 at 06:01 AM
So in your mind vandalizing private property wins you your party's nomination for President? Sounds more like a Democrat party primary campaign to me.
Ron February 23, 2012 at 06:37 AM
Really "Ordinary Joe"? Are you related to "UC CeCe"? You've got to be joking!?! If you are really concerned about this (any) church and this incident, you better hope that PO is voted out in November! Otherwise, PO in the next four years will be telling you and everyone else what they can and can't do in church. That scares me!
Mike February 23, 2012 at 07:01 AM
The vandals did not touch the Church. The Church is the community of believers. Our parish remains steadfast though Christ who strengthens us. God bless the vandals also.
Elle Ci February 23, 2012 at 07:05 AM
The satanic church doesn't support any kind of this nonsense and vandalism. Overall, they preach to respect other people in all forms. These are obviously stupid kids trying to look cool and don't even know what the hell they're talking about.
UC CeCe February 23, 2012 at 07:12 AM
Goodness gentlemen, lighten up. I made a lame joke- shame on me for not knowing Santorum was Catholic. I certainly didn't mean to imply that the vandalism had political implications. I doubt the idiots pulling these amateurish hijinks read books of any kind.
Rob Roy D. McDonell February 23, 2012 at 07:36 AM
One of the saddest days of my life. The refuge of the church, its sacred choir voices joyfully bringing inspiration to parishioners, the youth group actively promoting help for the homeless in our community; all inspired from the omniscient spirit that moves people to further the golden rule of '...loving thy neighbor...' Fr. Geoffery was proper in respect to the essence of our Christian faith to pray for the shameful acts of vandalism. Together we can recover the damage; this act may actually raise attendance levels...let us all demonstrate humility notwithstanding the fair punishment for the SOB's who've committed this.
quezon Juan February 23, 2012 at 10:45 AM
Sad thing. . . my prayers
Fr André February 23, 2012 at 03:35 PM
My parish here in Ramona, California has been hit too many times in the past three months. We can provide photos and videos of the incidents.
Benjamin Horner February 23, 2012 at 04:03 PM
Fahter Andre, please contact me at bhorner@ci.union-city.ca.us and I will forward your contact information on to our investigators. Regards, Commander Ben Horner/UCPD
Antonette Gabac-Solorio February 23, 2012 at 05:06 PM
This is so sad and disturbing..
Maria February 23, 2012 at 06:51 PM
Liz, Your sentiments are our sentiments. The wall will get repainted and the statues will be cleaned up. We are the Church and we will stand strong.
Sevenstringer February 23, 2012 at 07:09 PM
The perpetrators have knowledge of pentagrams, latin and Christian Holy Days. They know exactly what they are talking about.
Jakob February 24, 2012 at 02:40 AM
Obviously the people that did this are little tikes looking for attention but they are to stupid to realize that what they did effects our whole community you can tell that kids did this because of the handwriting on the letters. God please forgive the children who did this crime for they do not know how much it has effected our lives in one sight
Ron February 24, 2012 at 03:25 AM
Shane, you use this kind of language about an (any discussion) issue related to a church topic!? Come on, let's show at least a little class in our comments old buddy. You can certainly make your comments, but let's show some respect to the topic, the church members and the rest of us who are participating in this discussion.
Tim February 24, 2012 at 07:38 AM
Shane clearly has no class and four letter words make up the bulk of his vocabulary. He must be a product of that "high quality" educational system we keep hearing about that is New Haven Unified.
Shane February 24, 2012 at 07:41 AM
@Tim Aw, what high minded intellectual we have that joined the fray. Are you incapable of understanding the descriptive context used now?
Peggy February 24, 2012 at 09:19 AM
Good grief
MGM February 24, 2012 at 10:53 AM
Sick people can't get away with this... God is watching yoooouuu!!!
Paul Bartworth February 28, 2012 at 06:29 AM
Not the end of the world, can't believe tax money was wasted on a police investigation.

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