The pastor of a Catholic parish in El Paso, Texas is calling for prayer and reparation after a tabernacle containing the Eucharist was stolen from the church.
On Oct. 28, Holy Spirit Parish in Horizon City was broken into by unknown individuals.
“It is with a very saddened heart that I write these words to you,” said Father Jose Morales, pastor of the parish, in a Nov. 1 letter. “Sunday night into Monday morning we had some intruders in the church that caused damages and stole items including the tabernacle with the Blessed Sacrament.”
The incident resulted in minor property damage and stolen items equal to a few thousand dollars, the priest said. He stressed that the worst aspect of the attack was the theft of the Eucharist, the value of which cannot be estimated. Catholic teaching holds that the consecrated Eucharist is the body and blood of Christ.
“The desecration of the greatest gift possessed by the Church, the Most Blessed Sacrament, is a very serious matter,” he said.
He encouraged anyone with any information on the crime to contact the Horizon Police Department. He also asked parishioners to respond to the theft with acts of penance.
“Due to the desecration of the Blessed Sacrament I join our Bishop Mark Seitz in inviting you to make reparation for this violation by visiting the Blessed Sacrament and participating in any act of reparation,” he said.
“The indifference of the world towards God in the holiness Most Blessed Sacrament needs to be overcome with the devotion, love and the holiness of His children. Let us remain united and strong in the Lord and manifest that we are his faithful followers regardless of the violations that some express.”
Roberto Ceballos, a parishioner of 20 years, told KVIA that the theft made him feel unsafe in the neighborhood.
“When we heard the news about it, we felt bad...We couldn’t believe that it had happened here, of course, in the neighborhood and of course in a Catholic church,” said Ceballos.
“I don’t feel secure now... It's just a half-block away from my house,” he added.
Morales said it is difficult to understand the reasons behind the theft, but he urged the perpetrators to come forward and return the tabernacle.
“I don’t see the reason for something like this being done. We know God is merciful and if they would return what they took and repent it would be greatly appreciated, not just by us, but God will take that into account,” he told KVIA.
The priest encouraged his congregation to pray that the thieves repent and change their ways, and he asked Our Lady of Guadalupe to intercede for the parish.
“May our Blessed Mother, Our Lady of Guadalupe, who witnessed the acts of hatred and indifference towards her beloved Son, bring us consolation and guide us closer to the Sacred Heart of our Lord Jesus Christ. May the Holy Spirit protect us always,” he said in his letter to parishioners.