Church robbery condemned as ‘an act of desecration’

Bishop expresses shock following theft and vandalism at church in Co Longford

A smashed stained-glass window at St Michael’s church, Shroid, Co Longford. Photograph: Sinead Hussey/RTÉ

A smashed stained-glass window at St Michael’s church, Shroid, Co Longford. Photograph: Sinead Hussey/RTÉ

 

The theft of a tabernacle from a small church in Co Longford has been described by a bishop as an “act of desecration”.

Thieves broke the stained-glass window at St Michael’s church in Shroid and smashed the plinth that contained its tabernacle, before making off with the box.

The break-in was discovered by parish priest Fr Joseph Okere, who opened up the church at 8.30am on Easter Sunday morning.

The church is only used on Sundays for Mass.

The Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnoise, Francis Duffy, who visited the scene after the robbery was discovered, said the incident was “extremely upsetting” for parishioners on what was one of the holiest days in the Christian calendar.

He said: “The tabernacle is the centrepiece of every Mass, as it holds the sacred Communion hosts.

“It holds the bread that we believe has been transformed into the body of Christ.

“That is what we believe and that is why this act of desecration is so distressing.”

‘Disturbing’

Fr Thomas Healy, the administrator of St Mel’s cathedral in Longford, said he could not understand why anybody would want to steal the tabernacle.

“It’s really only a tin box with a brass door. I can’t imagine it would have any great monetary worth,” he said.

“It is quite disturbing to see the level of vandalism.”

He described the church as an “old, humble little place” that is well-loved by its parishioners .

“We had to cancel Mass. The local people were quite upset. The church is very fondly regarded by the local people, who are deeply distressed that anyone would vandalise it.”

Anyone with any information on the incident is asked to contact gardaí at Longford Garda station on 043-3350570.