The Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Church in Downtown Thorold has seen an increase in acts of vandalism in the past year and a half. The last incident dates from a few months ago when the sign outside of the church was vandalized after Reverend Michael Basque, who leads the church, put up the message, ‘Get Vaccinated’.
Says Fr. Basque, “I think the pandemic has brought out the best and the worst in people. There are some people who become incredibly selfish. Some of them don’t want to get vaccinated because ‘I don’t want to do it’. Well, what about the other people in the community?”
The vandals used a power tool to unscrew the plastic cover of the sign and rearranged the letters.
Says Fr. Basque, “They put up a word that means that the people who did it must have been catholic. It was the name of a person and the only person who would know who that person is, is another catholic. It indicates to me that there are people within our catholic community that don’t agree with what I’m doing.”
The incident is the fifth act of vandalism at the Holy Rosary Church in the past year and a half. Other incidents range from one of the church buildings being covered in graffiti to a statue in front of the church being smashed into pieces. But Fr. Basque says he is not deterred, “We’re not going to back down, this is important”.
Fr. Basque has seen first-hand the devastating results Covid-19 has had on the parishioners of his church. Says Fr. Basque, “How do we help our people cope with this? For some of them they’ve been coming to church for thirty years practically every day or more. To not be able to come to church is a big deal for some of them and so what we’re trying to do is find a way to balance it so we protect them and on the other hand provide them with spiritual services and help them cope with Covid.”
Fr. Basque is impressed with all the ways his congregates have helped each other out during the current health crisis. Says Fr. Basque, “I draw strength from my people because they’ve really come through. In fact, earlier when the community care shut down during Covid we were the only ones giving out food to the poor and my people came through every single week with increased food donations. That shows me the kind of people we have at Holy Rosary, that shows me the kind of people that we have in Thorold.”
And when it comes to those who refuse to follow public health guidelines, Fr. Basque says he is not giving up the fight.
“We got to do absolutely everything we can to get people vaccinated. We got to do absolutely everything we can at Holy Rosary Church, in Thorold and in Niagara to keep our people safe. I think that’s a religious responsibility.”