More churches targeted during spate of break-ins
Amid a spate of incidents over recent months, Blackfriars Holy Rosary parish in Canberra’s north is the latest to experience a break-in of parish properties in the Archdiocese.
The break-in occurred during the night of 24 May and resulted in damage to the church’s doors, locks and a window and the theft of several chalices and other sacred vessels.
Of particular distress to the Blackfriars community, the Tabernacle was also broken into and the Blessed Eucharist discarded onto the church’s carpet in the thieves’ apparent quest to target the sacred vessels.
It doesn’t appear the thieves acted knowingly in relation to the Holy Eucharist, according to parish priest, Fr Mannes Tellis.
“They probably weren’t aware of what they were doing,” he said.
Fr Tellis said the police and a forensic team spent several hours at the church investigating the break-in and a reasonable amount of “hopefully” useful DNA evidence had been obtained.
Elsewhere, It was relatively better news at St Matthew’s church in the Canberra suburb of Page. Frs Simon Falk and Thomas Jin were starting to stir at daybreak in the presbytery last Sunday when an intruder alarm sounded nearby.
At first Fr Falk thought it might be coming from St Matthew’s Primary school. Then he realised…:No it’s not, it’s ours!”
The parish priest and assistant priest, respectively, dashed to the church where they found a break-in had occurred via forced entry to a side window.
Fortunately, the back-to-base alarm system had done its job with the intruder or intruders fleeing just ahead of the priests before any further damage could be done.
The police were called and carried out an initial investigation.
The recent incidents follow last December’s well publicised break-in at St Thomas Aquinas’s in Charnwood where the church was ransacked.
The Archdiocese’s parishes have been put on heightened alert as a result of the break-ins and where necessary asked to consider increasing their security with back-to-base alarms and other security systems.
Archdiocesan Chancellor Patrick McArdle said the measures were “sad but necessary” steps to ensure the security of the Archdiocese’s churches, parish offices and presbyteries.