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By Michael Boriero – Local ­Journalism Initiative Reporter

Two weeks ago the Sainte-Bibiane Church in Richmond was defaced with highly offensive language and Nazi symbols resulting in nearly irreparable and costly damage.

The graffiti was spray painted onto the original brick on the side of the building and on the front door. The church’s administration is trying to figure out a way to remove the paint without causing permanent damage.

“We had somebody give us some product with a pressure machine and we were able to remove maybe 75 per cent of the graffiti, but we can still read what was written down,” said Sainte-Bibiane’s parish animator Lucie Bouchard.

She called the situation a sad moment in the church’s history. They are continuously trying to improve and build a beautiful church for the community, but it’s discouraging when people decide to vandalize the property, she explained.

Churchgoers are irate about the whole debacle, she added. It’s all rather confusing, she continued, no one understands why someone would spray paint the building. Police are expected to increase activity in the area, and the church asked residents to be vigilant.

“We want to ask people that if they see people, kids, adults or whatever around the church during hours when there aren’t any events to call the police,” said Bouchard.

She hopes that with the firestorm the graffiti created on social media, the people responsible for the heinous act will realize what they did was wrong. But she said the church doesn’t want to dwell on this for too long.

“I just find it sad what happened, but we’re just going to lift up our sleeves and try our best to remove the paint,” Bouchard said, adding that at the end of the day their mission is to help bring the community together.

This isn’t the first time the church has experienced vandalism. Four years ago, vandals, according to Eliane Thibault, tore down the church’s Sacred Heart statue. They built a new monument, but the act left a scar.

“It’s a little bit discouraging for the parish,” said Thibault, who handles communications for the Archdiocese of Sherbrooke. “It’s not easy for them because they work a lot and they want to build nice things for the community and people do things like that.”

She said Sainte-Bibiane is worried this time around because the paint used on the church could cause lasting damage. The brick is going to be difficult to clean and replacing it will be costly. The same goes for the front door, which is extremely old and priceless.

Thibault noted that churches are rarely attacked or defaced. She estimates that it happens about once a year. St. Francois Xavier Church was vandalized last year when a group of people unloaded fire extinguishers throughout the property.

“Church employees needed to stay a whole weekend to clean the entire building,” said Thibault.

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