By Jeff Todd

BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4) –  As Mark Evevard drove down the driveway toward Sacred Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Boulder, and saw the damage just keep getting worse. Early Wednesday morning, vandals destroyed a pro-life display and spray painted political and pro-abortion messages all over the property.

“It was a lot worse than I thought it would be,” Evevard, the youth director for the church, said. “Seeing the church and the front doors of the church, and the side of the church, that was kind of saddening seeing that.”

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Throughout Wednesday people were coming by the church to survey the damage for themselves.

“All of this graffiti and stuff is very much unexpected,” said Bruce Firtha, a parishioner who has attended mass here for more than a decade. “Very, very sad. I pray for these people.”

Evevard said he even had encounters with strangers who showed up and expressed disgust at the vandalism and support for the church. He says he’s been riding a wave of emotion.

“You’re sad, but then I was angry. Then my heart kind of went out for them as far as you’ve got to be really hurting to do this kind of destruction,” Evevard said. “This is people who were obviously hurting and angry.”

Last weekend, the church put out thousands of crosses near South Boulder Road – a display for Respect Life Month. A similar display a few years ago was vandalized by a woman who drove through the field of crosses.

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On Wednesday many of them were trampled, pulled out of the ground and damaged.

“I’m sure our crosses were a little bit of a trigger for people, they always are. People struggle with that, but most people have been pretty polite. They respect that you have a right to free speech, and you can do whatever you want on your own property,” Evevard said.

Sacred Heart of Mary isn’t alone, The Archdiocese in Denver says more than 20 parishes have been victims of some kind of crime since the beginning of 2020. Some vandalized, some victims of theft, but the cases are not thought to be linked.

“It’s kind of a sad reminder of the world we live in today,” Evevard said.

Jeff Todd