Sunderland priest’s disgust after burglars urinate in church’s holy water

Father Marc Lyden-Smith looking at the damaged caused during a burglary at St Mary's RC Church, Bridge Street, Sunderland
Father Marc Lyden-Smith looking at the damaged caused during a burglary at St Mary's RC Church, Bridge Street, Sunderland
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A priest has spoken of his disgust after burglars broke into his church and urinated in the holy water.

The sickening act was discovered yesterday morning when cleaners arrived to find a large window had been smashed at the back of St Mary’s RC Church, in Bridge Street, Sunderland.

The culprits also used a fire extinguisher in an attempt to break down doors, leaving behind a trail of destruction as they made off empty-handed.

The window will cost more than £1,000 to repair, but for parish priest, Father Marc Lyden-Smith, it is the intruders’ treatment of the holy water’s font that is more difficult to comprehend.

“I’m pretty angry that they could be so disrespectful,” Fr Marc told the Echo.

“Damaged glass and stolen items can be replaced, but actions like that are pretty disgusting really, but the Pope has called a year of mercy, so we’ll be thinking of that.”

Father Marc Lyden-Smith looking at the damaged caused during a burglary at St Mary's RC Church, Bridge Street, Sunderland

Father Marc Lyden-Smith looking at the damaged caused during a burglary at St Mary's RC Church, Bridge Street, Sunderland

Fr Marc, who is also Chaplain to Sunderland AFC and Catholic Chaplain to Sunderland University, said a small group of volunteers who clean the church on Thursday mornings had arrived as normal to find the destruction.

“Thankfully, nothing has been stolen, but they’ve had a good look around,” he said.

“They went into the confession box and had a look in there and tried to smash a couple of doors with a fire extinguisher, but they must have got bored and wandered off.

“I’m disappointed, really, upset that someone could want to do damage to somewhere that provides a lot of outreach for the community, but these things happen.

I’m pretty angry that they could be so disrespectful. Damaged glass and stolen items can be replaced, but actions like that are pretty disgusting really, but the Pope has called as year of mercy, so we’ll be thinking of that.

Father Marc Lydon-Smith

“We are looking into the cost of a temporary window.

“We don’t know how much it is going to cost to replace it yet, but it is a large window, so it will be over £1,000.” A Northumbria Police spokeswoman, said: “Between 11pm on Wednesday, September 9, and 9.30am on Thursday, September 10, St Mary’s Church in Bridge Street was broken into.

“Nothing was stolen in the burglary, however, damage was caused to a stained-glass window and the holy water font was also damaged, when the offenders urinated in it.

“Officers are carrying out enquiries and are appealing for witnesses.

Father Marc Lyden-Smith looking at the damaged caused during a burglary at St Mary's RC Church, Bridge Street, Sunderland

Father Marc Lyden-Smith looking at the damaged caused during a burglary at St Mary's RC Church, Bridge Street, Sunderland

“Anyone with information is asked to contact Northumbria Police on 101 ext 69191, quoting log number 262 of 10/09/15.”