Catholic chapel in Caroline County vandalized Christ child statue, windows smashed

March 25, 1996|By Consella A. Lee | Consella A. Lee,SUN STAFF

Worshipers arriving for 8 a.m. Mass yesterday at the Holy Child Roman Catholic Chapel in Bethlehem were greeted by broken windows and a smashed statue of the Christ child, the work of a vandal or vandals, according to a spokesman for the Caroline County Sheriff's Department.

Despite the vandalism, services were held at the white chapel with blue shutters, which was dedicated in 1962 and sits along busy Route 331.

The church is more than 100 years old and originally was near its current site, said the Rev. William Patrick Mathesius, pastor for two years.

"At first, some of us thought it was a hate crime," he said. "But I believe it was a random act of vandalism by people who have no respect for the church and its art-work," he said.

"We've never had any problems at all, and we've been going there since it opened. It's sad. We don't understand it at all," said Joyce Mueller, who attends services at the chapel with her husband, Joe. Both Muellers are 70.

According to the Sheriff's Department, between 8 p.m. Saturday and 7: 30 a.m. yesterday, the chapel's metal rear and side doors were smashed with an ax or hatchet. No entry was gained.

"They did a number on them. They didn't just crack them, they demolished" the doors, said Deputy William A. Biddle.

Eight double-paned windows of various sizes were smashed, said Deputy Biddle, who estimated the damage at $3,500.

Although houses are near the Eastern Shore chapel, the deputy said residents told him they did not hear any noises.

"I'm the organist, and I couldn't play," Mrs. Mueller said. "There was glass all over the organ. Nobody could sit on that side of the church. It was really devastating."

Father Mathesius said the 4-foot white marble composite statue of the Christ child that stood in front of the chapel was broken into several pieces.

Mrs. Mueller said she can't fathom why anyone would commit such an act. "Anybody who could do that, I don't know what to think of them," she said.

Pub Date: 3/25/96

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