Members of a community group that worked for years to save a historic church from the wrecking ball are shocked and in disbelief.

Only a week after receiving the deed from the Catholic Diocese of Antigonish, the building is covered in racist and vulgar graffiti.

Members of the Stone Church Restoration Society were filled with joy and triumph just over a week ago, after finally being granted ownership of the former St. Alphonsus Church.

On Monday, those feelings changed to sadness and anger.   

“I can't say anything right now,” said Bill White.

Like many in the community, White is at a loss for words.

Sunday he and other members found an obscene word, along with a swastika and other symbols on the back of the former church.

“The racial slurs on the building were disgusting,” said White. “We're not like that around here.”

Melanie Sampson was a member of the congregation here and is also part of the community group that spent five years and raised more than $40,000 to save the structure.

She says the 103-year-old land mark was the last thing soldiers would see as they sailed off to wars overseas decades ago.

“I'm very distraught over that,” said Sampson. “This building doesn't stand for racism, never did and never will. We are thankful for those would want to help in having it removed immediately.”

Sampson says she has contacted police who are looking into the vandalism. She says she's also heard from home owners in nearby Whitney Pier whose properties were also vandalized.

“They didn't have the racial slurs,” Sampson said. “They had one with two half circles, and another with the same initials, PBG. Police say it stands for pier boy gang.”

Sampson says removing the graffiti could come at a substantial cost, but says thankfully a contactor from the community has offered to remove it for free.

“I think it's a way for the community to rally together and let people know this type of behavior will not be tolerated,” she said.

Police say no arrests have been made and the incident remains under investigation.

The Stone Church Restoration Society says they'll be looking at installing cameras and extra lighting in the coming days to prevent something they feel shouldn't be happening this day and age.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Kyle Moore.