Vandals deface historic Catholic church in Phoenix - New York News

Vandals deface historic Catholic church in Phoenix

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PHOENIX -

A piece of Phoenix history defaced by vandals. The side of Sacred Heart Catholic Church tarnished with graffiti.

Sacred Heart Catholic Church is located on 16th Street off Buckeye near the airport. In fact, the property is owned by the city of Phoenix.

For years, members of a non-profit group have fought to keep the church intact, and recently won. But now they're facing another battle -- vandals.

"I was out here about 10:30, saw this and not just a small piece but a big piece," says Casper Habri.

Casper Habri made the discovery Tuesday morning. Massive black letters, the writing scrawled across the side of Sacred Heart Catholic Church -- the very place his children were baptized years ago.

"This carries a lot of history here, a lot of emotional history here for a lot of folks... they think of it as some type of artwork or something, where in essence this is very hurtful to a lot of people that the building means so much to."

Abe Arvizu has been working with Habri to save sacred heart. Their efforts are slowly paying off.

On March 20 of 2012, the Department of Interior deemed the church a National Historic Site.

It was built in 1953 by Father Albert Braun and the residents of the Golden Gate Barrio. The heart of the community, now destroyed.

The chain link fence that's supposed to protect the church was found with a hole in it by board members. They tell us that witnesses saw somebody on the property last night after the storm cleared.

"They knew what they were doing because they brought wire cutters to get through the fence so they had planned it and they knew what they were up to," says Arvizu.

The men say there's evidence the person or people responsible tried to break in. The windows and doors have been boarded up since the 80s.

This is the first time the church has been hit -- and hopefully the last.

"Be vigilant... always keep an eye on this facility because I know it means a lot for a lot of folks, not just for me," says Habri.

The group is asking anyone who knows anything about the graffiti to come forward.

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