Manitoba

'It was horrible': Ukrainian Catholic church ransacked near Sifton, Man.

When Richard Kostur walked up to the Sacred Heart Parish in Zoria, Man., to cut the grass Tuesday evening, he noticed something strange in the cemetery. 

Dauphin RCMP investigating break-in and theft of crucifixes, candle holders

Sacred Heart Zoria Ukrainian Catholic Church was built in 1938. (Riley Laychuk/CBC )

When Richard Kostur walked up to the Sacred Heart Parish in Zoria, Man., to cut the grass Tuesday evening, he noticed something strange in the cemetery.

"There was a cross in the cemetery area by the fence, which wasn't there before," Kostur's wife, Christine Kostur, told CBC News.  

"So he thought somebody maybe broke into the church."

He was right. 

After spotting the misplaced cross, Richard called his wife, asking her to bring over the keys to the locked parish. When they opened the door, they found the sanctuary ransacked. 

"There was things thrown all over the church, and all the candles on both altars were missing," she said. 

"It was horrible."

'A miracle' no windows smashed

Kostur and her family maintain the church and live just a few kilometres away. They have been busy getting ready for its once-a-year service on July 14. Earlier on Tuesday, her son had been giving the windows a fresh coat of paint. 

The parish was built in 1938 on the site of a church that stood there before. Its aging congregation doesn't have the numbers it once had, so the community has had to hold fundraisers to keep the church standing. 

Dauphin RCMP are investigating the break-in while Kostur and other church members are compiling an itemized list of what was taken from the church.

Kostur said the thief — or thieves — took a number of crucifixes and candle holders that appeared to be gold plated, but she didn't know for sure.

Poles holding up flags depicting Jesus were also tipped over and strewn around the sanctuary. What appeared to be the gold plated tops of the flags were also gone. 

Kostur said it was "a miracle" the flag poles didn't smash any of the stained glass windows on their way down.

"Just the thought of somebody having enough nerve to go into a church, you know. I'd be scared to be struck down by lightning or something," Kostur said. 

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With files from Meaghan Ketcheson