LIHUE — Mark Whitson hasn’t a clue on the perpetrator’s motivation.
He just knows what they did upset him.
“Everybody’s in disbelief that somebody would do something like that,” said Whitson, St. Catherine’s Church food pantry operations manager.”It just sacrilegious.”
That’s how the entire congregation feels, too, he added, after the roughly 700-pound Sacred Heart of Jesus marble statue located outside the front door of St. Sylvester Catholic Church was toppled over, which broke off both its outstretched arms and removed its head.
St. Sylvester is in Kilauea and under the umbrella of the Kapaa-based St. Catherine’s Church.
Whitson said the statue was destroyed sometime between the afternoon of Aug. 20, when it was last seen intact, and the early morning of Aug. 22, when it was discovered toppled.
“How sad it is we have religious intolerance or just vandalism like that?” he said.
He doesn’t suspect natural causes pushed over the statue that’s graced the outside of the church for as long as Whitson has been there — six years. That’s because a chain that had been hanging as part of the gutter system on the church was found wrapped around the statue’s neck.
And the vandals dumped out all the trash cans around the area.
“I don’t know what it could be,” Whitson said about whether the chains were used to as a way to get the statue on the ground or if they were left symbolically as a noose. “You can’t talk to those people to know what their intentions were or what message they were trying to send.”
Questions about the investigation to the Kauai Police Department weren’t returned Monday afternoon.
Whitson said his church has experienced several break-ins over the last five years, including thefts from the pantry donation box. He said in each instance the church lost around $50, but he doesn’t know if they’re being targeted or just on the wrong end of bad luck.
He said it took four people to get the statue off the ground and that it’s currently covered up while they explore repair options.
He didn’t have an estimate on how much it could cost, but said the financial component isn’t the worst part of the deed.
“It’s more symbolism than the cost,” he said. “It really kind of gets us. Someone would do something like that.”
He said they forgive the perpetrator, but seeing the damage was hard to stomach.
“I was just so outraged by it,” he said. “It’s just shock. You just pray for the perpetrator’s soul.”