Local News

Raleigh Church Robbed

Posted August 9, 2001

— A Raleigh church is praying for the return of some precious items.

Saint Joseph Catholic Church was hit by thieves. Instead of taking a lot of things they could easily resell, they took religious items, such as chalices. Vandals broke into the sanctuary Monday night and took some cash and the sacred vessels used during Mass and on Sundays, valued at about $3,000.

St. Joseph is 33 years old. Twenty-five years ago, someone broke in and burglarized it. Even so, the church is open all day to parishioners. Monday night's vandalism struck at the heart of its members.

"When you take Holy Communion and all, that is just part of your life. It just ruins the Sunday, let's put it that way," said Parishioner Wilson Chalifour.

This time, the thieves took about $25 from various collection boxes. They also broke into cabinets where the communion vessels were stored.

The people who broke into the church came in through a window. The money they took was not particularly important to the church; the important things were the vessels they took.

"We use the chalice for the consecration of the wine into the sacred blood of Jesus," said Father Thanh Nguyen.

Until the three stolen chalices and four communion cups are replaced, the church will use a spare set. Nguyen and the church members cannot understand the senseless nature of the theft.

"Outside the church there's no use at all for what they stole," said Nguyen.

Police are investigating the theft, but the vandals left few clues. Insurance may cover the loss. The vandals will have a difficult time pawning the sacred vessels, or even showing them. The gold is only plating. They have taken things important only to the people who worship at St. Joseph.

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