An unknown vandal or vandals sawed down a 14-foot cross at a Catholic-run retreat center in Orange County, California, and investigators are considering whether the act was a hate crime.

“It’s still a mystery why an apparently hateful person destroyed the cross using a chainsaw,” said Mark McElrath, executive director of the Santiago Center, the Orange County Register reports.

The cross had been dedicated during a retreat just before Father’s Day. It is located on a 500-acre retreat center in Silverado Canyon, about 14 miles from the city of Orange. The center has four separate retreat areas and 500 beds for overnight visitors.

Investigators believe the vandalism occurred between 6 p.m. Wednesday, June 28, and 6 a.m. on Thursday, June 29. Sgt. Frank Gonzalez of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department said they are looking at the vandalism as a possible hate crime. He added, “we’re still working on leads.”

Though the retreat center is hosting a vacation Bible camp for school children in grades K-8, none were staying on the campus at night.

McGrath said it wasn’t known whether the camp’s 24-hour security includes surveillance cameras.

Father Glenn Baaten, the chaplain of the Santiago Retreat Center, reflected on the vandalism.

“I was saddened, but perhaps not surprised in this day and age,” he said in a June 30 statement on the retreat center’s website. “In the Bible, in 1 Corinthians 1:18, we know that the cross — for someone who doesn’t believe — is ‘foolishness.’ The Bible also says that to the person who believes in Jesus Christ, the cross is ‘the power of God’.”

“We are praying for the soul of this person who cut down our cross. Redemption, because of Christ’s blood on the cross, is available to all,” Father Baaten said. “Forgiveness and redemption from God was extended to the thief next to Jesus on the cross — and it’s also extended to this person who visited last night.”

“We will replace the cross, of course,” McGrath said, adding that supporters of the retreat center are already sending in donations.

A GoFundMe fundraiser for the retreat center is seeking $12,000 for repairs and a new cross.

From National Catholic Register