A church in Park Slope is hoping a large cash reward will garner information leading to the return of its beloved tabernacle, which is worth about $2 million, after it was stolen sometime over Memorial Day weekend.
The NYPD said an alter at St. Augustine’s Roman Catholic Church on 6th Avenue was forcefully cut open sometime between May 26th and May 28th, and its pure 18-karat gold tabernacle with jewels was taken away. A statue of an angel at the church was also damaged, with his head removed, the police said. On Tuesday, the church’s diocese said it was offering a $50,000 reward for information leading to the cherished items’ return.
The solid gold artifact was discovered missing by the church’s pastor on Saturday, May 28th. The diocese has been hoping for a miracle ever since.
“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.” Bishop Robert Brennan said in a statement announcing the reward. “However, the theft of this historical item has not robbed the faith of the people of this parish.”
In addition to its monetary value, the tabernacle is also spiritually important for the parish. Having been a part of the church since it was built in the late 1800s, it was used to house the Holy Eucharist that is central to Catholic mass. Church officials said the tabernacle is “irreplaceable due to its historical and artistic value.”
“To know that a burglar entered the most sacred space of our beautiful church and took great pains to cut into a security system is a heinous act of disrespect,” Father Frank Tumino said in a statement.
The reward is being offered by the company that insures Diocesan properties in addition to the $3,500 award posted by the NYPD earlier this month.
Anyone with information was asked to call the NYPD’s Crimestoppers hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS.