When St Mark’s, Pakuranga parish priest Fr Sherwin Lapaan went to open the church for Sunday Mass on the morning of December 6, he discovered shattered glass “everywhere”, as a result of vandalism.
Two large glass panels at the foyer of the church had been shattered, so parish staff came quickly and parishioners who arrived early for Mass helped clean up the mess, Fr Lapaan told NZ Catholic.
CCTV footage at the church revealed the perpetrator arrived at 4.20am in a Mercedes-Benz C-Class car, with stones and blocks loaded in the back seat. The headlights were turned off before the attack started.
The perpetrator also threw stones at the parish hall and office side of the building.
Temporary repairs were later done, with the damaged panels taped and boarded up. Fr Lapaan reported the incident to the police.
Parishioners “are shocked and some are angry”, Fr Lapaan said.
“This was not the first time it happened to St Mark’s. What was upsetting was the cowardliness of the perpetrator. But many are thankful that only the glasses were shattered, and nothing was stolen or there was no further damage to the interior of the church,” he said.
“We will continue the works [of] ministry at St Mark’s – no matter what, and no matter how many shattered doors and windows we will get,” Fr Lapaan said.
“It is our prayer that whoever the person responsible for the damages [is], that he might find peace and reconciliation [for] whatever he is going through, and will realise that he doesn’t need to destroy properties to be [noticed], he can always just walk in at St Mark and we will offer him hospitality.”
As one response to the attack, better CCTV coverage is being arranged at St Mark’s, and more powerful LED sensor security lights are being installed around the church.
In response to NZ Catholic questions, a police spokesman said on December 11 that police are investigating a handful of wilful damage incidents in the Highland Park and Pakuranga areas that occurred on the night of December 5. One of these incidents occurred at St Mark’s in Pakuranga.
“CCTV footage is being analysed as part of our enquiries,” the spokesman added.
“No arrests have been made at this stage, however we are following positive lines of enquiry in this matter,” he said.
NZ Catholic understands that other properties in the area that suffered similar damage to St Mark’s on December 5/6 included a bank, a real estate office, a café, and a TAB outlet.