Vandalized Cross at Santiago Retreat Center Now Restored!
14-Foot Cross on Mountain Top at Christian Retreat Center in Orange County
Rebuilt by Students From Santiago Trade Schoo
SILVERADO, ORANGE COUNTY, CALIF., DEC 7, 2023
This week the Santiago Retreat Center in Silverado Canyon marked a poignant moment of resilience by “resurrecting” a newly reconstructed 14-foot wooden cross on their campus. On June 30, the original cross was sacrilegiously vandalized by an unknown perpetrator wielding a chainsaw.
Yet the reconstruction project coalesced the faith community of the retreat center’s staff, volunteers, and donors—converting a sad moment into a celebratory event. With the faithful dedication and meticulous craftsmanship of students from the Santiago Trade School, the cross now stands again as a beacon of hope and reflection.
The June 30 act of vandalism shook the community, leaving many bewildered by the senseless destruction of a symbol cherished by so many worldwide. Despite the distress caused by this malicious act, the students at Santiago Trade School, a two-year residential institution, rallied together in a display of solidarity and unwavering commitment. The school specializes in General Construction, Mechanical Technology, Agricultural Management, Philosophy, and Theology.
Father Glenn Baaten, the chaplain at Santiago Retreat Center, shared his perspective on the last five months noting the Old Testament account of Joseph in the Book of Genesis. “Even though someone meant to do harm to us, God used it for good. This reminded all of us how much the cross means to us.”
The rebuilt cross stands as a testament to the resilience of the Santiago community, a physical embodiment of the strength found in faith and unity. Its restoration signifies more than the physical reconstruction; it embodies the unwavering spirit and determination of those who refused to let an act of hate overshadow their commitment to peace and reverence.
The dedication ceremony, set to take place on [Date], will bring together community members, faculty, and trade school students to celebrate the cross's renewal and the values it represents. The Santiago Retreat Center welcomes all who wish to join in this moment of healing and solidarity.
When the vandalism was discovered, Santiago received support from the community to help rebuild the cross. The staff created a Go-Fund-Me website to receive tax-deductible donations to cover the expense of rebuilding the cross.
Donations are still being accepted at:
There’s more good news! Now with the rebuilding of the cross, the Santiago Retreat Center staff has been inspired to create a stunning walk through the beautiful property—featuring 14 crosses and a guided devotional experience through the stations of the cross. Contact the retreat center for more information.
“Built upon the solid foundations of work, study, and friendship, Santiago Trade School forms young men into excellent Christian tradesmen. We are a community committed to the tough work of gaining practical jobsite wisdom as well as the spiritual wisdom that unites men to Christ.”
Santiago Trade School is located at 27912 Baker Canyon Rd., Silverado, Orange County, CA 92676. Telephone: (714) 649-9800 Website: www.santiagotradeschool.com
Santiago Retreat Center is located in the foothills of the Santa Ana Mountains, just 17 miles from the heart of Orange County and the newly consecrated Christ Cathedral. Situated on 500 acres of wilderness setting, the facility includes 500 beds with four distinct retreat areas, each with its own chapel, meeting rooms, recreational space and dormitories. The vision for Santiago Retreat Center is to assist churches in the renewal of parish life through retreats, camps and events which meet the family in each stage of development and walk with them to where Christ is calling them to be. Santiago Retreat Center is located at 27912 Baker Canyon Rd., Silverado, Orange County, CA 92676.