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‘It was shock’: Church in Syracuse vandalized, deputies arrest suspect

By Abbie Petersen

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    SYRACUSE, Nebraska (KETV) — Otoe County Sheriff’s deputies arrested a man for allegedly vandalizing a church.

The priest at Saint Paulinus Catholic Church says the damage shocked their congregation just before holy week.

But the outpouring of support from surrounding churches has meant everything as they get ready to celebrate Easter.

A church is supposed to be a sacred, safe place for families.

So you can imagine how it feels when one is vandalized.

“My first reaction was, like it was shock,” said Fr. Ryan Salisbury.

Father Salisbury says on Saturday, he arrived to prepare for Psalm Sunday and found this:

A window was smashed, the altar turned over. Candlesticks and crosses thrown on the floor.

The altar stone, taken out and smashed and a sacred statue thrown to the ground, and in pieces.

“You don’t expect … I’ve been here for four years. Never once have had anything close to like that,” said Fr. Salisbury.

He says there was fear, sadness and anger among the parishioners.

But it feels like the timing of it all was no coincidence.

“This was a way in which we kind of got to participate in his Good Friday. Like, you know, there was broken, there was damage. There was damage to his body. That happened here,” said Fr. Salisbury.

On Thursday, Otoe County Sheriff’s Office arrested 32-year-old Travis Ross for criminal mischief and trespassing.

Fr. Salisbury says he was glad to hear of the arrest but not out of vengeance.

“This could be like an intervention in their life to kind of help break them out of this habit. Like something was clear that what took place was unjust, not right. And, you know, it was seen in some ways like a cry for help,” said Fr. Salisbury.

As for repairing, people from all over have stepped up.

Fr. Salisbury says the Lincoln Diocese donated an altar stone.

And someone from Iowa brought them a new sacred heart statue Thursday so they’d have it in time for Easter.

And luckily, they only need temporary fixes.

“We’re literally getting ready to renovate this entire church too, like in probably a month and a half, we’re hoping to begin,” said Fr. Salisbury.

And after everything that has happened during this holy week, it’s now they feel the lord’s presence more than ever.

“But if we realize that our lord’s with us in this and we continue to look to him, he’s going to lead us and unite us together as a family, as a parish, and really grow stronger through it,” said Fr. Salisbury.

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