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Cleanup of vandalized church in full swing, expected to reopen on Saturday

Published On: Apr 09 2013 06:28:44 PM MDT   Updated On: Apr 09 2013 08:24:23 PM MDT
BOZEMAN, Mont. -

Broken glass was still scattered on the ground in Holy Rosary Church Tuesday afternoon. Father Leo Proxell said a lot of different parts of the church were damaged in last weekend's burglary.

The FBI has been called in to help the investigation, and the vandalism could be investigated as a hate crime. The suspects would face felony burglary charges.

Vandals shattered one of the windows inside, and threw glass jars with oils onto the floor. Those oils, Proxell said, were sacred to the church.

"We use them for baptisms and confirmations, anointing the sick," he said.

But by Tuesday, cleanup efforts were coming together. Workers had already painted the walls to erase the hate messages, and turned their focus toward cleaning up the glass.

"We're moving along quickly, and at this point plan on being open this weekend for services," Proxell said.

Holy Rosary expects to open for the 5:15 service on Saturday, and Proxell said they are ready for it.

"We want our space back," he said, adding, "this is our home. This is our spiritual home."

He said it's been an emotional ride for parishioners, but they've received an outpouring of community support.

And, he said, the church has grown stronger from the incident.

"Great support from the whole community which I am so very grateful for," said Proxell. "Everyone just sort of rallying around each other -- that's what gives people that sense of strength then and courage."

He said parishioners are still coping with the shock of it all, but they're moving forward, and can't wait to reopen the doors on Saturday.

NBC Montana checked in with detectives on Tuesday, who tell us they met with the FBI Tuesday morning to figure out the next steps in the investigation.

They also said they're getting in touch with all area churches to offer support and help improve safety.