Pray for the protection of our churches!
St. Patrick Co-Cathedral in Billings, Mont. fell victim to a horrific attack on their outdoor nativity scene on Jan. 16, 2023. The parish keeps the nativity scene on display until early February.
In this Jan. 26 news report, Montana’s KTVQ interviewed St. Patrick pastor Father Leo McDowell, who explained the overnight incident.
“The wise men were all decapitated, the animals were strewn all over, and Mary, Jesus, and Joseph were missing,” Father McDowell said. “It was kind of a shock to think that someone would come in and do that.”
In another interview, an unnamed parishioner expressed concern for the state of our country.
“We were targeted and violated. Isn’t this a country that’s supposed to have freedom of speech, freedom of religion?” she lamented. “Everyone should feel safe being able to go to church–whatever church they go to.”
Other parishioners also expressed their concerns to the news outlet.
St. Patrick parishioner Linda Casey said she didn’t “think it was just a random act of violence,” and that it was “a pre-meditated event.”
“I hope for their sake and their eternal soul they are caught, so maybe they can get some help,” she said.
Parishioner Mike Lew also said a possible attack on the church “was in the back of his mind” before it occurred.
“I was sorry to hear it,” Lew said. “Throughout the holidays, I saw the nativity scene and I said, ‘Well, with the way things are going, I hope nobody destroys it,’ and I guess somebody did.”
Here’s the news report below:
Father McDowell explained that he filed a report with the Billings Police Department immediately after the attack, but did not hear from them until many days later.
He said he “was frustrated” with the delay, but later thanked them for their apology and response.
Here’s Father McDowell’s comments on social media:
Father McDowell’s Facebook post reads, “We had a little bit of a problem at St. Patrick’s last week. We made the news today. I want to say, when the police department realized they had misplaced our case, they got right on it.
“Someone may have thought it was the same case as the church on the south side it was vandalized about the same time. Thanks Billings Police Department for acknowledging the mistake and helping us in this case.”
A similar crime occurred at another parish in Billings the night before vandals attacked St. Patrick.
The suspects robbed Mary Queen of Peace of several images and statues, estimating in about $8,300 of property loss. They also vandalized an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and graffitied the walls and doors. The estimated cost of damage was approximately $4,000.
The report also explains that two additional Billings churches fell victim to attacks.
Let us pray for the protection of our churches throughout the United States.