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$50,000 reward offered for tabernacle stolen from church


DeSales Media Group

John Burger - published on 07/05/22

Liturgical object made of gold and silver and valued at $2 million was part of Brooklyn church since its construction in late 19th century.

The Catholic Church in Brooklyn, New York, is offering a $50,000 reward for information leading to the return of a $2 million tabernacle that was stolen in May.

Bishop Robert Brennan of Brooklyn announced the reward on Tuesday, which is being offered by the diocese’s insurance company. It adds to the $3,500 reward previously set by the New York Police Department.

The tabernacle, made of 18k gold and silver, was stolen from St. Augustine Roman Catholic Church in Park Slope during the Memorial Day weekend. The object had been part of the church since it was built in the late 1800s. 

The reward is being offered by the company that insures diocesan properties, in addition to the $3,500 reward publicized by the New York City Police Department earlier this month.

“We continue to pray for the one-of-a-kind Tabernacle, made possible by the original parishioners of St. Augustine, to be returned and then restored, in all its glory, to the heart of this church,” said Bishop Brennan. “However, the theft of this historical item has not robbed the faith of the people of this parish.”

Fr. Frank Tumino, pastor of St. Augustine, discovered that the tabernacle had been removed from its place on May 28, the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. The NYPD said that burglars used power tools to “forcibly cut open” its protective metal case. 

Consecrated Communion hosts lay amid the rubble and metal shavings found on the ground, making the crime particularly offensive to parishioners — more so than the toppling statue or other act of vandalism. 

“This is devastating, as the tabernacle is the central focus of our Church outside of worship, holding the Body of Christ, the Eucharist, which is delivered to the sick and homebound,” Fr. Tumino told the Tablet, newspaper of the Diocese of Brooklyn. “To know that a burglar entered the most sacred space of our beautiful church … is a heinous act of disrespect.”

Earlier this month, Bishop Brennan joined Fr. Tumino at a special Mass that blessed and purified St. Augustine in the wake of the desecration and burglary.

“This holy sacramental receptacle is irreplaceable due to its historical and artistic value,” the diocese said in a statement. “The angels which flanked the tabernacle were decapitated and destroyed.” 

Anyone with information is asked to call Crimestoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS. 

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