Alice Ameluxen wept as she stared Sunday at the burned-out shell that was the St. John Vianney Church. An arsonist’s fire destroyed the stained glass windows that had cast a warm golden glow on the dark wood pews, the massive pipe organ and the simple wood crucifix that hung above the stone altar.

The 43-year-old had grown up in the Hacienda Heights Catholic church. A half-century ago, her parents were among its founding parishioners. Nearly every milestone in Ameluxen’s life, from taking her first Communion to getting married to grieving at her parents’ funerals, had taken place within its walls.

“My happiest and saddest memories are here,” she said, clutching the hand of her 7-year-old daughter, Jean. “I just feel like I lost my home.”

That was a common sentiment on Palm Sunday, as more than 5,000 members of the parish and others from the community struggled to come to terms with an arson the previous day that had destroyed the building.

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