Every inch of the St. Vladimir Ukrainian Catholic church in Utica shows the hard work and dedication of those who built it. The elaborate stained glass windows don't show any signs of decay and the ornate woodwork with gold overlay still sparkles. On Sunday morning, the beauty inside the church couldn't hide damage vandals had done to the outside. Father Michael Bundz found spray painted profanity and a hateful anti-religious statement on an outside wall.
"Everyone should respect. It doesn't matter what kind of religion you have, Catholic, Orthodox or Muslim - it doesn't matter but you should respect god," said Father Bundz.
Utica Police hope that someone will recognize the "Mouse" and "Nony" tags the vandals used at St. Vladimir and on another nearby office building. Investigators will also look into the motivation behind the graffiti to determine if it is a hate crime.
"Is it a question of just trying to make a statement or trying to be out there and making a statement as shocking as they can possibly be? Or did they mean something more because it does mention religion - was there something more involved to it," said Sgt. Steve Hauck from the Utica Police Department.
The church congregation is trying to understand why someone would want to damage their place of worship. The bricks on the outside of the church are specially treated - making it extremely difficult to remove the paint without damaging them.
Father Bundz says he hopes the people responsible are found and can receive the help they need.
"When you see the sign - you see the hate in the heart of the people," said Father Bundz as he described the vandalism.
If you can help, you're encouraged to call Utica Police at (315) 223-3503.
We have included a picture of the graffiti with the story, with the obscenities removed.