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North Austin church plagued by graffiti taggers

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Austin has been plagued by graffiti taggers in recent years and now they struck at a church in north Austin.

Right now, the church and its parishioners are dealing with it with patience and some elbow grease.

Graffiti vandals hit this church again over the weekend and the church fears it's becoming an escalating issue.

"When it's defaced... especially when we're defacing Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior it does hurt you," said Deacon Jose.

A handful of Saint Albert parishioners took it upon themselves to clean away the mess left by taggers.

"We feel like the person returning home to find their house ransacked and so it's very personal. We have lots of good neighbors and were hoping someone would see something," said Saint Albert Parishioner, Raymond Hernandez.

"I saw the tagging for lack of a better word that's the polite word to use for what they did and I just told Deacon I have nothing to do Monday morning... so I'll be over Monday morning and clean it all off for you," Mike Palmatier said.

Palmatier is a professional handyman who attends Saint Albert. He's sees this as a rallying point for parishioners.

"Whenever you can grow closer that just makes the bonds tighter between the parishioners and brings it more into the family focus that church is supposed to be," Palmatier said.

"Taggers hit the statue of Jesus, one of the church's signs and left their calling card on a utility box.

"We have no way of knowing if these are related. They are a pattern that's been going on since I've been here," Jose said.

Jose has been at Saint Albert only four months and he's seen his share of church vandalism.

"We had our floodlights broken. We had our floodlights stolen," Jose said.

Vandalism at St. Albert the Great goes back at least four years when this stain glassed window was broken out by a thrown rock, costing the church several thousand dollars.

The main sanctuary was built many years ago. Local artists were commissioned to design the building. So anything like the breaking of these windows is a concern to the church.

"So we had to find replacements something close to it but not with the same love that the individual did for that particular item," Hernandez said.

Saint Albert the Great has about 3,000 members. There is a certain amount of love for this church. Deacon Jose says a report has been filed with Austin police.

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