Sister Mary Johnice lectured the thief, saying, "This is God’s property. This is God’s mission. How dare you do this!"
Sister Mary Johnice Rzadkiewicz CSSF is the director of the Response to Love Center in Buffalo, New York. Established in 1985, the center, located in a former parish school, provides hot meals and guidance to those in need. “Here, our dining room feeds the hungry; the chapel provides spiritual warmth; and our food pantry stretches our families’ tight budgets,” the center’s website states.
The New York Post reports that early in the morning on Saturday, January 14, Sister Mary Johnice finished her morning prayers and heard unusual noises. She went out to take a look around the house to see what was going on. No sooner had she opened the door than a figure ran away, and she discovered a ladder leaning against the wall that had no business being there. She looked up and realized that there was another person on the roof! According to the Buffalo News, they were trying to steal copper gutters and downspouts. (Ironically, their attempts were in vain, because someone had already stolen the copper ones years ago; the current ones are aluminum, the sister explained to the local news outlet.)
Sr. Mary Johnice told Fox reporter Tucker Carlson what happened next: “I said, ‘He’s got to come down, but not on this ladder!;” So she threw the ladder down to the ground, and the would-be thief was forced to jump down. Then, unintimidated, she lectured the thief. “I said, ‘This is God’s property. This is God’s mission. How dare you do this!’ I pointed my finger and I told him, ‘Get out’ and he ran away.” The burglar, no doubt ashamed, fled without violence and empty-handed. The sister told Buffalo News that she’s keeping the ladder. Perhaps the event could be considered a blessing in disguise, because “the center never had a ladder large enough to reach the roof.”
The New York Post reports that Sr. Mary Johnice took the opportunity to share with Fox News her thoughts on the power of mission and the importance of doing everything for God.
“It’s an experience where God is so present. He wants that mission to reach out to poor people, to really share that they’re loved, compassion.”
This conviction of being a small tool at the service of God surely helped the sister have the courage to defend the center from the invaders without being afraid or thinking for a second about the danger she might have faced. “I’m no better and no different,” she said. “I want to be there and the building that we’re in is special. It’s a dining room. It’s a place of safety, people coming together, enjoying a meal, and just experiencing so much joy. Why would someone want to hurt that mission?” she said.
Still, she’s not angry. She told Buffalo News, “They could have come here for food or clothing. They could have come for a kind word, some guidance, but they chose a different route. That is not of God, that is evil. I just wish I could meet them. (…) Every day I’ve been praying for these two thugs.”