Vandals damage Peoria church windows; donations welcomed to assist repairs

This detail shows where one of the rocks thrown by vandals on May 25 broke the stained glass window at St. Joseph Church in Peoria. (Provided photo)

Windows depicting the Queenship of Mary and the Assumption of Mary were damaged over Memorial Day at St. Joseph Church in Peoria. Father Alexander Millar, pastor, said large rocks were thrown through the protective glass and two of the panes, perhaps with a slingshot.

Police estimated the damage at $15,000. Bids are being taken to repair the windows, made in Germany and imported in the late 1800s.

This is the third time in recent memory that people have thrown rocks at the windows, but this is the first time it’s been this bad, Father Millar told The Catholic Post. That’s one of the reasons security cameras have never been installed.

An exterior view of St. Joseph Church in Peoria shows where two sections of the protective glass covering over the stained glass window were damaged on May 25. No one had been identified as a suspect as The Catholic Post was going to press. Provided photo

“In general people have always been very respectful of the church, especially the good work it does to feed people,” he said. “Unfortunately, we just seem to be living in a less civil time.”

Sophia’s Kitchen, a program that serves hundreds of sack lunches each weekday to those in need, operates out of the parish center at St. Joseph Church. Volunteers also offer a sit-down Thanksgiving dinner and distribute as many as 600 Christmas baskets each year.

In order to repair the windows, only the sections that were damaged will need to be removed, according to Father Millar, who said, “That’s one of the nice things about the way Mayer in Munich built their windows.”

Each stained glass window in the Gothic Revival church has exterior panes to protect them. Church officials are looking at something more robust and unbreakable to do the job in the future.

“The windows are insured. That will pay for the majority of it,” Father Millar said. “Because we don’t know everything insurance will cover and we’d like to mitigate any chance of future vandalism, we are happy to take donations to help. The security cameras aren’t going to be inexpensive.”

Those who would like to assist may send contributions to Sacred Heart Church, 504 Fulton St., Peoria, IL 61602-1105.

“The German immigrants who built the church and paid for the windows were some of the poorest in the city. The beauty of St. Joseph’s really does show how they sacrificed everything to be able to worship God,” Father Millar said. “The parish continues to serve the poorest of the poor on the south side of Peoria.”

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