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Community comes together at San Xavier Mission

Posted at 10:28 PM, Apr 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-08 01:49:16-04

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) -- After graffiti was found at the San Xavier Mission, the community came together in prayer Thursday night.

"This is a part of my life, and this is the part of my people," said 14-year-old Ameliah Tenario. "This is the center of our village and our district. And it really hurt when I found out what happened.

About 200 people attended rosary just outside the church, the message was of peace and forgiveness.

Trish Wilson was among those in the crowd and has been going to San Xavier for 45 years. Wilson says her godson was baptized there, and it will always be her home. She was outraged and hurt when she learned of the vandalism.

"My great grandmother used to bring us here for mass many, many years ago, which just instilled San Xavier as my church home," Wilson said. 

Austin Nunez, the chairman of the San Xavier District of the Tohono O'odham Nation, says everybody is very sad and in disbelief. There have been incidents of vandalism in the past, and they will work together to prevent it from happening again.

"Whoever these individuals are that committed the crime, I would hope that they would step forward so that we can help them, help themselves."

Nunez says this Saturday the community will discuss some options, which may include creating neighborhood watch groups.

Tenario has lived in the district her whole life and grew up at the mission. While the graffiti was hurtful, it brought the community together.

"I love the church," Tenario said. "It's so beautiful. It makes me so proud that it's in my district and it's in my community."

"I think that our community doing this has brought us all together, and I know we're going to work through this in the end," Tenario said.

Most of the tagging was cleaned up by the afternoon, but many have been asking how they can donate.

Patronato San Xavier is a non-profit that works to restore and improve the historic landmark. Here is a link on how you can give back to restoration projects.