Nativity scene vandalized at Overbrook, Pennsylvania church
Nativity scene vandalized at Overbrook church: "Someone is hurting worse than we are"

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January 8, 2024
OVERBROOK, Pa. (CBS) – When Mass ended inside Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church Sunday, families came out to get a closer look at the vandalized nativity scene near their church.

"It just made me cry. I can't stand to see that. The desecration of the nativity, of the holy family," parishioner AnnaMaria DiPilla said. Just so heartbreaking."

A few of the sculptures were cracked, broken and strewn around, including St. Joseph's head and an angel's wing.

"It's a feeling of sadness. Me, personally, it's also a feeling of anger," parishioner Domenic DiPilla said.

"Our lady's hands were broken. It looked like a horn was broken off one of the animals. So it was just somebody who got, I guess, a little bit upset and threw everything around and smashed it," the Rev. Matthew Phelan said.

Phelan, who is the pastor, said he learned about the damage Sunday morning, the last day the nativity scene would be up.

"It's significant in its meaning, so it hurts a little bit, but someone is hurting worse than we are and they need our prayers," Phelan said.

As bells rang out, some parishioners said they think that sound and the Christmas music played during the last week might have been a reason for the vandalism, after the church received complaints about the noise.

"The bells are going to ring. It's a Catholic Church. The bells are going to ring, and maybe you don't like it, but you have to respect it," Domenic DePilla said.

"To say that it's related to people angry about the bells, I wouldn't go that far, but it was an issue this week," Phelan said.

Regardless of the reason, many say they'll continue to lean on their faith through this time.

"Whoever did this has a lot of anger within them and I just want to pray for them, that they turn away from that and realize what they did was very hurtful to us and to Jesus," AnnaMaria DiPilla said.

The church says staff plan to file a police report in hopes of documenting the incident in case something like this happens again in the future.
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre

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