GROWN men "cried and cried" when they discovered vandals had trashed the old Habana church - including breaking the arm off Jesus.
The community was preparing for a sad goodbye to the church of 89 years Sunday as it was a school, a place where married couples first met and a cornerstone for the community.
When Margaret Attard walked up the stairs to the church she was shocked; the front door was ajar and there was grass on the floor.
For weeks they had been cleaning it and on Saturday afternoon it was spotless in preparation for the decommissioning ceremony on Sunday.
"I knew it wasn't right, straight away," she said.
"The vestments were taken out of the cupboard and dumped, there was white stuff on the floor and alcohol all over the red cloth at the altar."
The baptism font had been moved, cupboard knocked over, the speaker was stolen, empty beer cans on the grass and the side door kicked in.
"I was quite distressed and called out to my husband and another member that they needed to come up and have a look," she said.
"My husband and the other member just cried and cried their eyes out, this is where they went to school."
And by the time everyone arrived later in the day for the decommissioning of the church they had heard about the vandalism.
From the crowd of more than 200 people could be heard the words "sad", "horrible" and "just the worst timing".
At the Harvest Mass and decommissioning of the church councillor Laurence Bonaventura couldn't ignore the main injustice that took place.
Having gone to school there himself, he admitted he too cried when he first heard of the destruction.
He was not angry, instead like a good Catholic man, told the congregation to "pray for those that have done this".
Thankfully the old church building will survive and will rise again as part of a new community hub connected to the shed on the same parcel of land donated to the community in 1928 by Charlie Camilleri.
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