‘A sacrilegious act’: Parishioners angry after removal of shrine, sacred tiles from Davis Catholic church

Local News

DAVIS, Calif. (KTXL) — A Davis Catholic Church’s decision to remove an image of “Our Lady of Guadalupe” and replacing it with a new monument is causing controversy amongst its parishioners.

Jose Granda told FOX40 that back in 1989, he designed a shrine that once stood by St. James Catholic Church.

“Beautiful sanctuary, a place of prayer,” Granda described.

He said the tiles of “Our Lady of Guadalupe” came from Mexico and was a major symbol to the Hispanic community.

“It had a rose on the floor which symbolized the respect for life,” Granda explained.

Granda said a group of people within the church took down the entire shrine last month and even removed the sacred tiles, replacing it.

Granda said the decision was done in secrecy.

“To destroy a relic that’s a work of a saint, it was a sacrilegious act,” Granda said.

The spot is now empty, and parishioners told FOX40 the entire shrine is a sign of disrespect, not only to them but to their culture.

“How come the work of the Hispanic community, built with so much love — this was a labor of love with their hands, brick by brick — how come it’s not worth it?” Granda said.

Since then, parishioners have come every Sunday to mourn the loss of what once was there.

“They don’t have any reasons to do that,” Granda said.

Sacramento State civil engineering professor William Newman said nothing was wrong with the original shrine.

“Taking it down would be a problem in the sense of maintaining the integrity of the joint in the mortar,” Newman said.

Father Rene Jaugueri declined FOX40’s request for an interview but did provide a statement that said, in part, a renovation has been discussed for many years, and the parish did get input from the community and he hopes eventually all parishioners can learn to appreciate the new shrine.

At one point during Sunday’s prayer, Jaugueri walked by the group without saying a word.

“It’s like if it was in my house and my father doesn’t give me attention. I feel the same thing. I saw that my father ignores me,” said parishioner Mara Fatima Jaramillo.

Granda said he just hopes those responsible realize what they did.

“God have mercy on those who destroyed it,” Granda said.

The Diocese of Sacramento provided the following statement supporting the parish’s decision:

The shrine outside our church has been beloved in our parish for decades. It is and will continue to be an important area of prayer and devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe. For this reason, we are investing in a renovation of the shrine that will enable us to enjoy and experience its beauty for many decades to come.

This renovation project was discussed for many years as the original shrine, nearly 50 years old, had decayed over time and was insufficiently waterproof to last in its outdoor location.

Before selecting a final design for the renovated shrine, our parish conducted a survey of parishioners and sought input from various parish groups and councils. Several alternatives were presented and considered in this careful, thorough process. Funds for the renovation were raised from within the parish, with a great deal of this support coming from Hispanic families.

We understand that often times decisions made regarding longstanding fixtures of a Parish can be very emotional. We respect the feelings and opinions of those who do not agree with the design choices made after this careful and collaborative decision process.

The project is expected to be completed by the Solemnity of Our Lady of Guadalupe on December 12th. It is our hope that when the renovation is completed, all our parish will celebrate the renewal of this cherished space.

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