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Pastor of vandalized church tells congregation 'we have our church'

Published On: Apr 13 2013 08:28:01 PM MDT
BOZEMAN, Mont. -

We told you how vandals broke into Holy Rosary Catholic Church, smashed windows, spray painted graffiti and broke religious items.
     
The FBI was called in to help and the vandalism could be investigated as a hate crime.
     
This pass week, volunteers and professionals painted the walls to erase the hate messages and cleaned up the glass.

"I was actually here yesterday because we were part of the cleaning crew so, that was kind of different. The painting had already been covered up but we were still cleaning up fire extinguisher stuff and broken glass and stuff like that," explains Holy Rosary parishioner Beth Naert.

Saturday evening, dozens of parishioners filed into the church to celebrate mass.
     
Emotions ran high as churchgoers greeted their Pastor, Father Leo Proxell, and eachother- admiring their place of worship as they remembered it before the vandalism.
     
Father Proxell began mass by saying, "We have our church." Before the first reading, he performed a baptism, a sign of renewal.
     
Proxell then went downstairs, the place vandals hit the hardest, and sprinkled holy water where the messages of hate used to be.
     
We talked to parishioners before mass. They told us they were excited to see their church family and worship together again.

"Our place of worship was defaced but our church, the people who are the church, we have not been hurt and, if anything, tonight is a celebration of that faith that we all have and that we're able to be back here together," says Holy Rosary Parishioner Kandy Rose.

Parishioner Christopher Howell tells us it feels great to be back.

"I'm definitely thankful but I can't help still being a little angry about the whole thing. I mean, I can't understand how people can be so disrespectful of a house of God," says Howell.

Rose tells us she was overwhelmed by all of the offers she received from other churches and individuals asking how they could help.

The next mass will be held at 8am, Sunday morning.