A Howard Beach church was broken into in a brazen burglary that netted two chalices worth $11,000, including one valued at $10,000 alone, police and a priest from the church said.
When the monsignor of St. Helen’s Roman Catholic Church, at 157-10 83rd St., arrived at the building in Howard Beach at 6 a.m. Friday morning as he was preparing for morning Mass, he discovered cases inside the church sacristy, where the chalices were stored, opened and two of the chalices missing, according to the Rev. Robert Keighron of St. Helen’s.
Keighron said the burglary took place sometime between 12 p.m. last Thursday and 6 a.m. Friday.
The $10,000 chalice was Keighron’s, which was given to him as a gift by his family on the day of his ordination.
“When I heard about it, I was in shock. I didn’t believe it,” Keighron said Monday. “It’s sad that someone would take something that has tremendous personal sentimental value that really won’t get them very much.”
Keighron said the chalice would only be of value to another church, but his name is engraved on the bottom and another church would notice it if they bought it.
“The value to [the robbers], I don’t understand,” he said. “It would seem very hard to sell.”
“It’s sad that I lose something that I had every day of my life [as a reminder] of my parents’ and family’s support of my priesthood,” he said.
Keighron said the chalice was designed himself and handcrafted in the Netherlands.
Another chalice, worth $1,000, was lying on a countertop in the sacristy that was being readied for the next morning’s Mass and was also taken. That chalice was a gift to Monsignor Alfred LoPinto, who discovered the theft, Keighron said.
Other cabinets holding chalices in the sacristy were not disturbed, Keighron said.
Keighron said police from the 106th Precinct visited the church Friday morning and Sunday and Monday afternoon, but had yet to apprehend the burglar.
“They said they’re working on a few things. They haven’t said they’re close to anything, yet,” he said.
The locks on the front entrance to the church and the sacristy were smashed, said Keighron, who surmised the robber had to know the layout of a church.
“Anybody who did it would have some familiarity of the setup of a church,” he said, noting the sacristy is where churches keep their most valuable items.
Keighron said while he was braced for the possibility, he does not believe a St. Helen’s parishioner was responsible for the robbery.
“I think that would shock me more than its being stolen in the first place,” he said.
About 3,000 families are registered as members of St. Helen’s and the church gets anywhere from 1,700 to 2,000 parishioners for Sunday Mass.
Police were asking anyone with information of the burglary to call Crimestoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS, visit the Crimestoppers Web site at nypdcrimes
Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz
©2010 Community News Group
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