Statue of Jesus Defaced at Merced Church

Merced, Calif. Sacred Heart Church in Merced is missing a meaningful piece of its parish. A statue of Jesus had to be removed after someone covered most of the white six foot figure in black paint.

Avelina Garcia said, "It's sad. It's sad because people who do this are probably angry and they're angry at God."

Church Secretary Avelina Garcia said it's also extremely sad because of special meaning the statue holds. It was placed on the property in 1986 in memory of a young priest who was killed in a car accident in Mariposa County two years earlier.

Garcia explained, "His parents dedicated this statue in his honor and put it in front of Sacred Heart because he loved Sacred Heart."

The statue has now been cleaned by a parishioner, and it will be painted to remove the remaining black marks. But the congregation is concerned the statue will be vandalized again. That's because it's been targeted several times in the past two decades ... including just last week when it was covered in graffiti, then cleaned by a parishioner, only to be desecrated again.

Lt. Andre Matthews with the Merced Police Department said, "It's really disheartening for citizens to see things they treasure so much defaced by vandals."

Lieutenant Andre Matthews said it's likely the same person vandalized the statue this week and last. And now he's asking neighbors in the area to keep an eye out and come forward with information. Meanwhile, Garcia said she forgives the person who painted the statue, but she believes they will eventually face consequences for the crime.

"It does hurt us, but we can fix it, although it happens over and over but it's fixable. So what they're doing is really hurting themselves more," said Garcia.

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