YONKERS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Police Friday afternoon were searching for the vandals who doused the altar with paint at a church in Yonkers.

The incident occurred between noon and 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Annunciation Roman Catholic Church, at 470 Westchester Ave. in Yonkers.

Monsignor Dennis Keane, the pastor of the church, said he felt “really terribly offended, terribly hurt, terribly violated.”

Police said someone poured brown paint on several spots throughout the church, including the bronze tabernacle.

“They poured it on the top and all down, and then all on the white cloths,” said church custodian Philip Maldonato. He said the tabernacle veil, which is used to house the Eucharist, was destroyed.

Maldonato spent hours cleaning up the paint, which was also doused on the two podiums at the altar.

“It seemed like a hate crime,” he said.

Keane said the church leadership was heartbroken – particularly with the destruction of the tabernacle.

“The tabernacle is the most important part of our church,” Keane said. “To have somebody intentionally go in and intentionally pour a bucket of paint on top of the tabernacle to deface it and to dishonor the Blessed Sacrament is really awful.”

Maldonato said on Wednesday, many people were in and out of the upstairs sanctuary. The rosary group came down around 7 p.m. and noticed the destruction.

Maldonato said he had shut the lights and locked all the doors leading outside, so whoever is possible must have been inside the church and walked downstairs from the upper level.

The vandalism has left parishioners in disbelief.

“Stunned – you know, it’s a quiet community,” said parishioner Mike Hefner. “And you know, nothing like this happens over here.”

Investigators said they are reviewing surveillance video in the area. Meantime, church members are now praying police catch whoever was behind the vandalism.

Police don’t believe anything was stolen, 1010 WINS reported.

Anyone with information can contact the Yonkers police Detective Division at (914) 377-7724.

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