Fall River, Mass. Cathedral Vandalized on St. Stephen’s Day

The following is a News Release from the  Catholic Action League of Massachusetts… 

FOR THE second time in three months, the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption in Fall River has been damaged by vandalism. On the morning after Christmas—December 26th, Saint Stephen’s Day—portions of four stained glass windows in the nave of the church were smashed when projectiles were hurled or shot through them.

The windows were crafted in Germany in 1891. The restoration of each window will cost $25,000, for a total repair cost of $100,000. The Gothic Revival church, designed by renowned architect Patrick Keeley, was dedicated by Bishop John Fitzpatrick of Boston in 1855. It became a cathedral when the Diocese of Fall River was erected in 1904. The cathedral parish serves 700 families.

On September 29th, Bouchaib Hammazy of Fall River was apprehended by police after throwing a cinder block through a window of the cathedral. He was charged with the breaking and entering of a church and was sent for psychological evaluation. Fall River Police consider him a person of interest in this latest attack.

This was the eighth incident in 2020 in which a Catholic church or Catholic statue was targeted by vandals in Massachusetts. In addition to the two Fall River attacks, there were five attacks in the Archdiocese of Boston and one in the Diocese of Worcester.

During the overnight period of April 13th and 14th, rocks were thrown through two stained glass windows in Holy Family Church in Rockland. On the night of July 11th, a 75 year old statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary on the grounds of Saint Peter’s Parish in the Dorchester District of Boston was scorched by an arson fire.

That same night, a mile away, another statue of the Blessed Mother at Saint Teresa of Calcutta Parish was desecrated when a garbage barrel was placed over the head of the statue. That desecration was repeated four days later during the overnight of July 15-16th.

During the overnight of August 2nd-3rd, two Molotov cocktails were hurled against the exterior doors of Sacred Heart Church in Weymouth, charring the doors and causing some melting in the vestibule. On July 16th, a five foot granite statue of Our Lady of Lourdes was stolen (later recovered) from the McAuley Nazareth Home for Boys in Leicester.

The Catholic Action League called the Fall River attack “an appallingly destructive crime, directed against exquisitely beautiful religious art, in an historic church note for its spiritual and architectural significance.”

Catholic Action League Executive Director C. J. Doyle made the following comment: “In 2020, the number, frequency and intensity of these incidents escalated, dramatically, in Massachusetts. Over the last eight years, their growth has been exponential, and we are not just experiencing graffiti anymore.”

“Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and Bristol County District Attorney Thomas M. Quinn III must treat this incident as a hate crime and a constitutional rights violation. The perpetrator or perpetrators must be arrested, prosecuted and incarcerated.”