Mass is again being celebrated at Christ the King Catholic Church in Tokio, ND, after vandalism closed the doors for two weeks.

Mass is again being celebrated at Christ the King Catholic Church in Tokio, ND, after vandalism closed the doors for two weeks.
Vandals deployed fire extinguishers, broke windows and stole a number of items from Christ the King, sometime on the night of Aug. 20, and clean up prevented Father Charles Leute from celebrating mass there with parishioners.

“It took some time to clean up the chemicals from the fire extinguishers,” he says, “but we are now having mass at Christ the King every Saturday at 7 p.m.”
The vandalism, which was the second such event for the church in the last year, occurred on the same night that a neighbor’s vehicle windows were broken and the Tokio Headstart building was also ransacked. Though no one has been charged in the incident, Fr. Chuck suspects that the same party perpetrated all of the damage.

In addition to the broken windows and chemical damage, Christ the King also lost a five and a half foot tall processional cross donated by local parishioners, vestments, a cape, a chalice, rosaries, candles, globes, and even Fr. Chuck’s comb.

“I continually find things missing as I look,” Fr. Chuck says, “I am currently looking through a church goods catalogue to price the missing items for the insurance company, but so many of the items were old or handmade and cannot be replaced by items from a catalogue.”
Some of the items contained traditional Dakota beadwork done by people from the area. Several doors were broken off of a cabinet made by Brother Vital, a Benedictine brother who served in years past in the St. Michael parish.

Fr. Chuck has searched the surrounding area looking for any trace of the missing items, but nothing has been located, and there have been no leads to any of it. A special request had to be made to the BIA, to whom the incident was reported, to obtain a report of the vandalism. The report was vague, showing mostly photos of footprints in the powdery extinguisher chemical and a lighter left by the altar. A local pawn shop answered his inquiries with a cold statement about not being able to tell if items were stolen.

“It’s set us back to have to replace and repair these items, but there’s no way to know the intention of the vandals,” Fr. Chuck says, “Perhaps they were not local since some of these items would have been too large and too heavy to carry far or to hide.”
Fr. Chuck serves at Christ the King in Tokio, Seven Dolors in Ft. Totten and St. Jerome in Crow Hill. The parish has installed security cameras in several locations in order to discourage future incidents of this sort.

Other Spirit Lake organizations have had similar problems with vandalism in recent months, according to officials. Several reports by the Spirit Lake Housing Authority, Dakota Baptist Church in Fort Totten and private individuals have been filed within the last year detailing vandalism in the area. Many of these incidences remain anonymous while several of them are attributed to children or teens lacking supervision.

“I do not know the motive of the people who would do this,” Fr. Chuck says of the incident at his location, “It was so strange that they would take one chalice and leave the other or take one candle and leave the other that was right beside it. It is puzzling.”
In the meantime, parishioners at Christ the King continue to celebrate the mass on Saturday nights. Fr. Chuck asks the community to help keep watch over the properties.

“I can’t see everything,” he says, “and it helps to work together to prevent these things from happening. Whether it’s kids on the roof of the church or midnight break-ins, if you see something, call us or the police.”

The Spirit Lake Police Department can be reached at 701-766-4231.