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Arsonist burns down Hacienda Heights church

April 15, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Churches around the globe are celebrating Good Friday, the most solemn day of the Christian calendar.

But, for parishioners at St. John Vianney Church in Hacienda Heights, it's been a difficult week. An arsonist destroyed their place of worship.

Firefighters responded early Saturday morning when the fire erupted from the church. Investigators said an arsonist is to blame for the blaze.

The parishioners are heartbroken. The church was completely gutted by the fire. The church's stained-glass windows and pipe organ were destroyed. The damage is estimated at $8 million.

As the search continues for the suspect, the church is continuing with its services, holding Good Friday services in a parish hall just behind the destroyed church.

"It is difficult because we don't have a church building," said Father Ricardo Viveros from St. John Vianney Church. "But we've overcome that and are doing the liturgy exactly how we would have in the church. People are crying; devastated but also full of hope."

An additional tent was set up for Sunday due to a massive turnout expected for Easter services. Church members said they will be holding two simultaneous services that day, one in the parish hall and the other in the tent.