Baby Jesus statue, 40 trees vandalized in Sylvania prayer garden - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

Baby Jesus statue, 40 trees vandalized in Sylvania prayer garden

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The Sisters of St. Francis in Sylvania are in shock after an attack on their 55-acre prayer garden.

Sylvania police are investigating after someone cut the feet off of a baby Jesus statue and chopped off the top half of approximately 40 trees.

The beautiful non-denominational prayer garden is a quiet place of peace where you can walk or sit and reflect.  The sisters are now praying for whoever tried to make it a place of destruction causing an estimated $20,000 in damage.

Sister Jeremias Stinson, the Superintendent of Environmental Stewardship for the Sisters of St. Francis of Sylvania, says whoever committed the crime brought a weapon, likely loppers, to the Canticle of Praise Prayer Garden.

It’s a 55-acre retreat of gardens, woodland, and shrines maintained with love and care by the Sylvania Franciscans.

"We're the hallmark of reverence and respect for creation,” says Sister Jeremias.

Sister Jeremias says the culprit or culprits cut the feet off of a baby Jesus statue, along with part of his left hand.

It’s part of a permanent nativity scene, resting inside a Christmas crib.

"The cut is clean so it was done with some kind of an instrument,” says Sister Jeremias. “It wasn't a break. It wasn't smashed. It wasn't dropped, which would be bad. But to deliberately do something symbolic like an amputation is really, really scary."

Sister Jeremias says whoever damaged the baby Jesus statue also chopped off limbs and the top halves of nearly 40 trees over the course of at least two weeks.

She says they also tagged a white spruce with white spray paint and busted the pipe for the well.

"I don't think they're in their right mind what they have done, to come after such a wonderful place and do so much damage,” says Aryana Meghnot who lives in Sylvania. “I really think they're crazy."

The trees are all less than nine years old.  Sister Jeremias planted all of them starting in 2006 with the help of federal grant money to replace the approximately 1,000 trees lost to the emerald ash borer.

"I know what has been cut is lost. We're not going to be able to salvage it,” says Sister Jeremias.  “I think it goes beyond vandalism.  I think there's a vendetta here. Someone has to be very angry or disturbed to do this kind of violence. I really, really hope if somebody has any idea who might have done this that somehow we could get that person help because we've been praying for that person ever since."

Sylvania police are investigating the vandalism. 

Captain Frederick Schnoor says detectives do not have any suspects.

Vandalism is a fourth degree felony, according to the police report. If caught and convicted, the person or persons who attacked the prayer garden could face up to a year and a half in prison.

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