“I am not shocked, given all that has transpired in the last several months, that the devil would unleash his fury at my parish and myself as he has. […] We have been picking a fight with the devil for some time now and do not intend to back down one iota.”
That’s what Fr. Bill Peckman told ChurchPOP in an interview, explaining he suspects the recent desecration of his church was demonic retaliation for their spiritual warfare and successful evangelization.
His parish, St. Clement Catholic Church in Bowling Green, MO, recently suffered one of the worst church desecrations in the U.S. in recent memory in the early morning of Sunday, July 24th. He described the horrific scene on his blog: the church’s “confessional, baptismal font, holy water font, presider’s chair, lectern, altar, and tabernacle were smeared with human feces. The Holy Oils were emptied into the carpet. Her books used for Mass destroyed. Her vestments soiled with wine. Worst of all, the Blessed Sacrament within the tabernacle desecrated with human feces.”
Police traced the crime back to a local woman who eventually confessed. She told police she’s both a parishioner of the church and a practitioner of Wicca. As to why she did it, she said she was “mad at God because of how her life turned out and her family members were so far away,” and that after vandalizing a few items, the rest of her time in the church “was a blur.”
“Some of the details I am not free for various reasons to divulge,” Fr. Peckman explained regarding why he thinks the devil may have targeted his parish. “However, my parish was instrumental in starting a pregnancy crisis center in town. As abortion is the devil’s sacrament, our direct combat surely evoked rage.” He added: “I actually preach that mortal sin, evil, and the devil are real. We greatly extended confession times, which are getting better use. I reverted back to old house blessings which included blessed salt and exorcisms and St. Benedict medals. The list goes on and on.”
In addition to the reasons she gave to police, Fr. Peckman says it’s “a matter of public record” the woman who did the desecration has mental health problems. He also said he thinks her involvement with Wicca was a factor: “I do believe the Wicca practice has something to do with it. It is occult and one does not open such doors and expect things to go well.”
But he and his parishioners remain unfazed. “I know who wins, so I and my parishioners are not worried. Given all that has happened, we still do not lock the church as was the custom of this parish for decades. We did start praying the St. Michael prayer at the end of all masses. God will take care of us.”
In fact, Fr. Peckman thinks the ordeal has inspired his parishioners. “My parishioners are fired up right now. If anything, I believe this attacked has verified for them that we are on right track. After all, the devil doesn’t attack what he isn’t threatened by.”
Because the church was desecrated, sacraments were not allowed inside until his local bishop performed a purification rite, which took place the morning of July 30th. “The purification prayer was a powerful rite that I hope to never see again,” Fr. Peckman said. “It is the first time I have seen Holy Water mixed with Blessed salt used for the blessings to follow. It opened with a litany of Supplication, moved to a blessing of the new liturgical books and ciborium, then a reconsecration of everything that had been desecrated. It was followed by Mass.”
He said there’s also a lengthy process if the woman decides to reconcile with the parish. “Desecration of the Blessed Sacrament is a sin so heinous that permission for reconciliation must given by the Holy See. To do this takes weeks once started, as the Diocesan Tribunal has told me.”
Bowling Green is a small town with a population of around 5,300. St. Clement Catholic Church has around 420 families and a small school of around 75 students.
But it’s growing: “We have been very busy in our parish with evangelization,” Fr. Peckman said. “We’ve had RCIA classes in the teens for the past few years. Also, we are seeing many young families return. Adult ed has been big here: we’ve done the major constitutions of Vatican II and the General Instruction of the Roman Missal as adult ed in the past few years.
“I see all of these rising.”