By Marnie McAllister, Record Assistant Editor
Blessed Teresa of Calcutta Church in Fairdale, Ky., has been targeted by vandals and thieves three times this month. The latest attack occurred Sunday morning, July 13, just a week ahead of the parish’s summer picnic, set for July 18-19.
Vandals broke into the parish pavilion — a building that includes an indoor kitchen and a covered outdoor area with tables. It is where Dare to Care food is distributed to people in need twice a month.
The space is also the hub for picnic preparation.
Father Patrick Dolan, the parish pastor, said the damage from this latest episode of vandalism is estimated at about $1,100.
In the outdoor area, the intruders broke off the blades of a ceiling fan, smashed light bulbs in their sockets and discharged two fire extinguishers.
In the kitchen, they broke a lock on a freezer and removed the food, including ice cream which was found smeared and melted on the floor. Some of the frozen food, such as chicken and vegetables were found cooking directly on a stove.
Other gas burners in the kitchen also were turned on, Father Dolan said, but they were not lit. The parish keeps the gas to these extra burners turned off at a main valve.
“Apparently they intended to burn it all down,” Father Dolan said in a July 15 interview.
He also noted that the parishioners who discovered the damage just before the 10 a.m. Mass believe they disrupted the attack.
While the attack is disheartening to the parish, Father Dolan said, recovery has shown “the grace of God working in his people.”
“Parishioners pitched in and cleaned up immediately,” he said. “They’re very good about that. They are not deterred by this.”
In fact, he said, they are already busy with picnic preparation now. He noted that a neighboring parish, St. Aloysius Church in Shepherdsville, Ky., has put out a call to its parishioners to help Blessed Teresa by making cakes for the picnic.
The two previous attacks on the parish property included a minor incident last week when Father Dolan, asleep at 1 a.m., was awakened by noises outside.
“I was awakened by, ‘bang, bang, bang.’ I thought it was someone in trouble,” he said. “I went out and there were four boys throwing rocks at our sign (with the parish’s name) trying to break it.”
The teenagers ran off when they saw Father Dolan, he said.
The first of the July attacks, a burglary, occurred on July 4 when people broke into the rectory while Father Dolan slept. The intruders rifled through some of his belongings and stole a few things, including a Knights of Columbus insignia (Father Dolan is the state chaplain) and his car keys.
The burglars stole Father Dolan’s car and it was found the next day, totally damaged. Two people have been arrested in this case and an investigation is ongoing, Father Dolan said.
Father Dolan, a retired chaplain and a brigadier general in the Army National Guard, added that he was eight or so feet away from the intruders when they broke in, though he was in his bedroom.
“I’m kind of glad they didn’t try to come in and do things to me, because my Army training might have taken over,” he said.