A devastating blow for St Thomas Aquinas Church community
Parishioners of St Thomas Aquinas church Charnwood are devastated after the church was ransacked between 1.15pm and 5pm on Tuesday.
Vandals pushed over the altar and ambo, and smashed statues.
“It’s devastating,” parish priest Fr Tom Thornton said.
“It seems to be very opportunistic. I feel sorry for the people who built the parish – whose home it has been for a long time. I’m particularly thinking of them and how they must feel about their church in this state.”
Children at the adjacent St Aquinas Primary School are disappointed as the Year 6 graduation Mass was planned to be celebrated in the church tomorrow.
The church was designed in 1989 by architect Romaldo Giurgola at the same time as he worked on Parliament House. The church’s design won the RAIA’s Canberra Medallion in 1990.
Inaugural priest and stalwart of the parish Fr Neville Drinkwater installed many valuable artefacts in his 30 years there.
“The altar was an ancient piece of hand-carved timber Fr Drinkwater had specially designed and built along with the ambo and the presidential chair. They were all done at the same time,” Fr Tom said.
“The crucifix which we had in front of the ambo was hand-carved. But, unfortunately, that’s now been smashed, so I don’t know how it will be replaced.
“It’s a nice peaceful, simple church. It’s just a great shame. I don’t understand what you would gain by coming in and trashing the place.”
As police forensics collected evidence, parishioners gathered for Mass at the parish centre.
“I don’t know how long it will take to get the church back in shape enough to celebrate Mass again,” Fr Tom said.
Primary School principal Leah Taylor said St Matthews Page had offered their church for the graduation Mass, which was “wonderful”.
“I think that’s what happens in this Archdiocese – everyone looks out for one another and chips in.”
She was proud many Year 6 students were keen to help in the clean-up.
“I’ve worked at several schools, and, you know, there are some that have got a close link to the parish and the church, and this is one of them,” she said.
Fr Tom said the parish would probably need to install security cameras and security screens across all windows, “which will be of significant cost to the church”.