Saint Michael the Archangel Church at 7837 Canada Way, was vandalized last week with graffiti targeting one of the church's highest-profile parishioners.
Boston Bruins forward Milan Lucic and his family attend services at the church, and Lucic even brought the Stanley Cup there last summer. The Bruins beat the Vancouver Canucks in seven games to win the trophy last June 15.
On Feb. 11, someone sprayed "Go Canuks (sic) Go," "F---Lucic" and a phallic symbol on the side of the church.
Nikola Djasic, the church's caretaker, was at a loss to explain the motivation for spraying graffiti on the church.
"I don't know," he said. "Lots of people are Canucks fans from here too. They are really mad."
Word of the graffiti incident hit social media on Feb. 16 when Lucic's girlfriend, Brittany Carnegie, posted a picture on Twitter of the graffiti, which she called "disgusting."
Saint Michael the Archangel had estimated it would cost about $5,000 to remove the graffiti, but in stepped some local New Westminster students and a Lower Mainland company that specializes in graffiti removal.
Students from Lord Kelvin Elementary, just across the Burnaby border, removed graffiti from the church's windows, and Goodbye Graffiti painted over the graffiti on the wall - at no charge to the church.
Della Wittig, whose children attend Lord Kelvin Elementary School, heard about the incident on Friday morning.
She contacted the school's principal and asked if Grade 7 students could go and help clean up the church.
"When I saw it, I thought, 'This is a learning moment, and we can't let it pass us by,'" she said. "I thought it was a great teachable moment."
Wittig and fellow parent Kirstin Shaw gathered cleaning supplies to help put the plan into action. Soon, a class of Grade 6/7 students arrived at the church and got to work.
"They cleaned off the glass," Wittig said. "They did a fabulous job."
Jason Boyne, general manager of the local branch of Goodbye Graffiti, also dropped by the church after hearing about the graffiti.
He asked that the students not to wash the graffiti off the wall, as his company wanted the wall dry so it could paint over the graffiti.
Although she was offended by the vandals' actions, Wittig said the timing was great because the Grade 7 students were in the midst of learning about community service at school.
"They were gung ho," she said. "They worked really hard. It's cold out. Their hands were freezing."
The cleanup had special meaning for some of the students in Heather Scharf's Grade 6/7 class.
"Three of the students go to this church," Wittig said. "For them it's neat to see your classmates help you. Everyone wanted to be part of it and help."
Mark Ruus' Grade 7 class was en route to help clean up when they were informed the student cleanup was contained to the windows and their assistance wouldn't be required.
Boyne said his company removes racist or offensive graffiti from buildings like churches.
"There's no charge," he said.
"They had the paint too, so it works out great."
The Serbian community unveiled its new church and cultural centre at 7837 Canada Way in 2005.
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