-- Catholic News Agency
Man With Sledgehammer Attacks Two La. Catholic Churches
LAKE CHARLES, LA., December 18 (CNA) .- A vandal with a sledgehammer who attacked statues at two parishes in Sulphur, La. was discovered in the adoration chapel at one of the churches.
Sulphur police chief Lewis Coats said the suspect told authorities, "God ordered him to destroy the statues."
Both Our Lady of Prompt Succor and Our Lady of LaSalette parishes lost about a dozen statues in the attack, which occurred overnight between Dec. 14 and 15. The Blessed Sacrament was spared desecration at both parishes.
A parishioner in LaSalette's adoration chapel was approached in the early hours of Dec. 15 by a man identified as Daniel W. Duplechin, who was carrying a sledgehammer. The parishioner then called the police, who had to taze Duplechin after he charged an officer outside the church.
The suspect, who is 35, remained in jail Sunday night, with bond set at $690,000. He has been charged with hate crimes, two counts of burglary of a religious building and two counts of felony criminal damage to a religious building.
He has also been accused of shattering glass entryways at Henning Memorial United Methodist Church and Sulphur First Baptist Church, though he did not make entry into either of those buildings.
Much of the art destroyed will be difficult to replace. Some of Our Lady of Prompt Succor's statues were about 100 years-old, and the crucifix vandalized at Our Lady of LaSalette is roughly 80 years old.
Even though the parishes have insurance, "it doesn't replace the sentimental and historic value of the statues. These are mementos of the history of the parishes," said Bishop Glen J. Provost of the Diocese of Lake Charles.
Bishop Provost said the destruction was as though someone had burgled a home and destroyed cherished family photos.
The bishop will take part in prayers of reparation at both churches on Dec. 20 and 21.
Bishop Provost said prayers would be offered for both parishes, "and for the young fellow who did all the damage, as well."
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