Police are appealing to the public for help and a parish is requesting prayers after a tabernacle containing the Eucharist was stolen from a church in Boone, North Carolina on June 16.
“We are calling for prayers and the safe return of the Blessed Sacrament after the tabernacle was stolen from the church Tuesday night,” said a message posted on the website of Saint Elizabeth of the Hill Country Catholic Church.
The parish said the theft occurred “sometime after 9 p.m. Tuesday night,” and that the thief entered the church through a window.
Nothing apart from the tabernacle was stolen or damaged, said the parish.
“Please pray and offer reparation for the desecration of the church and the theft of the Blessed Sacrament,” the statement said.
Fr. Brendan Buckler, pastor of St. Elizabeth’s, appealed to the thief in a statement.
"We pray that your hearts may be moved to please return the tabernacle to us, but most especially the contents,” said Buckler in a statement provided to CNA by the Diocese of Charlotte.
The parish will hold a Holy Hour of Reparation on Thursday night.
Masses at the church on Wednesday and Thursday were canceled. The parish website states that prayers of reparation must be done before Mass can resume at the church.
The tabernacle is described as being approximately two feet tall and one foot wide, and is made of brass. The tabernacle contained a ciborium, which contains the Eucharist.
Police are requesting anyone who lives near the church to examine any surveillance footage that may have captured the thief.
No other churches in the area have experienced thefts or vandalism.
The Diocese of Charlotte declined to comment to CNA about a possible motive for the theft, and directed CNA to contact the Boone Police Department. The Boone Police Department has not yet responded to questions from CNA.
This is the second time in recent months that St. Elizabeth’s has made headlines.
In April, a parishioner reportedly made claims to the local health department that the pastor at St. Elizabeth’s had celebrated Mass on Easter Sunday with more than 10 people, in apparent violation of public health norms.
The parishioner, Karen James, told the National Catholic Reporter that she had counted 22 people enter the church building, which, she said, prompted her to call the local health department. James also voiced her objections to the priest’s celebration of the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite, which is celebrated in the parish in addition to the ordinary form of the Roman Rite, offered in both English and Spanish.
The parish said the Easter Mass was celebrated privately, and in conformity with both diocesan norms and health regulations.