The woman who admitted to desecrating a Catholic church in Missouri was found dead in her apartment on Monday, August 22nd in an apparent suicide.
The local county coroner Jim Turner has so far withheld the details that point to suicide, saying he’ll release more information when the full investigation is complete.
Fr. Bill Peckman, pastor of the desecrated church, expressed deep sadness at the woman’s passing on Facebook:
“A month ago I asked your prayers for the lady who was responsible for the desecration of our church. I just found out that she is dead. I am sick about it. I now ask you to pray for her and her family. I would respectfully ask that anything other than a comment that you praying be left unsaid. Thank you.”
During the night of July 23rd and 24th, St. Clement Catholic Church in Bowling Green, MO suffered a terrible vandalism attack that included human feces being smeared on the Bible, sacred vessels, and even on the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle. A police investigation quickly led to 54-year-old Linda Howard, who admitted to having perpetrated the attack.
She told police 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.” She also said that while she considered herself a parishioner of the church, she also practiced Wicca. Fr. Peckamn told ChurchPOP it was “a matter of public record” Howard had mental health problems.
The vandalism was so bad that the church was considered desecrated. Sacraments were not allowed in the church for about a week until the local bishop could preform a special “Public Prayer After the Desecration of a Church.”
Fr. Peckman told ChurchPOP he viewed the vandalism as a part of a larger demonic attack on his parish. “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.”
Nonetheless, when it came to Howard, Fr. Peckman repeatedly called for his parishioners to offer only mercy, forgiveness, and prayer.
“We must pray for those who perpetrated this attack,” Fr. Peckman wrote on Facebook the day of the attack. “We cannot give into the anger or fear such as an attack can muster. We cannot respond to sin with sin. We will rise above this and show not only the larger community but the attacker themselves that the fullness of God’s mercy can be found at St. Clement.”
After the ritual for purification, he praised his parishioners on his blog for their loving response: “My parishioners have responded beyond any hopes that I would have expected. Not one asked what we were going to do to the woman who visited this tragedy upon us. Not one. Instead I had multiple request as to how we might help her.”
“This is the way of Christ,” he wrote. “No vengeance. No fear. No overreaction. Just mercy and forgiveness.”
Please say a prayer for the repose of the soul of Linda Howard, and for her family.
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