During a men’s retreat held over Father’s Day weekend, a 14-foot wooden cross was set into the ground and dedicated at Santiago Retreat Center.

Situated in Silverado Canyon, the 500-acre center serves Catholic communities throughout the region.

The weekend proved to be a special and blessed time for retreat guests. But not two weeks later, on June 29, the retreat center staff made a shocking discovery.

The cross had been cut down and sawed into pieces….

Shortly after the discovery, Mark McElrath, executive director of the center, called Fr. Domenico Di Raimondo, former director of the nearby House of Prayer, a retreat center for priests.

Fr. Domenico had celebrated Mass during that Father’s Day retreat.

The longtime priest offered a spiritual perspective of what had occurred.

“He called me back and left a really sweet message that just said, ‘You know Mark, the cross is a symbol of violence in itself, and out of that violence, Jesus brought all people to God. So, let’s expect that there’s going to be some good fruit from this terrible thing,’” McElrath said. “And that really helped get my head on right as far as how to contextualize what had taken place.”

A GoFundMe page set up to cover the costs to repair and reinstall the cross has collected $8,770 as of Friday, July 14. The remaining funds will be used for camp scholarships, McElrath said.

“More than the amount of money, it’s the large number of people who took the time to make any kind of contribution,” the executive director said.

Fr. Baaten, who has a background in construction, said the cross could be reconstrued, and doing so “might send a really beautiful signal about how the cross of our dear Lord is immortal on some level.”

From OC Catholic