A tabernacle with the Blessed Sacrament located inside, along with other church belongings, was stolen from Catholic church in Hydes, Maryland, between the night of March 25 and the morning of March 26.

“I am saddened that they took the tabernacle with the Holy Eucharist in it, which is appalling,” Father Pete Literal, pastor of St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, located in Baltimore County, told CNA Wednesday. 

Stolen were the gold tabernacle with the Eucharist inside, the base of a processional cross, four candelabras, and six candle holders. There was also damage found on a side door of the church, according to the police report, “where a 2-inch piece was missing near the handle.”

Police don’t know how the door was damaged, but the report shows that the damage “was not near the latch or lock and there was no damage consistent with prying on the adjacent surfaces.”

The church’s business manager, Shawn Blair, told CNA on Wednesday that the parish is still working to determine fiscal damage and losses, but said the total value would be more than $20,000 “without a doubt.”

It is also unclear how the thief or thieves entered and exited the church, as there are no cameras, Literal said. Associate Pastor Father Ross Conklin was preparing for Mass on Saturday morning when he discovered the items had been stolen.

“It's very hurtful that someone would do that to a church,” Blair said. “The fact that they took the Eucharist is very upsetting.”

Literal said his message to whoever is responsible is to ask them to return the items “and to please take care of the Eucharist in the tabernacle.” 

“It is a sacred sacrament,” he added. Parishioners were saddened and grieved at the news of the Holy Eucharist and tabernacle being stolen, Literal said. 

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On Saturday afternoon, Literal said, “we did a simple prayer of consecration of the church” and sprinkled holy water. This coming weekend he plans to do a dedication Mass, he said. A replacement tabernacle has been put in place of the stolen one.

“This is not a hate crime but it is more of greed,” Literal said. “People are stealing things without disregard to anything; it's really just greed and money,” he said.

The offense information listed on the incident report included second degree burglary and Destruction of Property. Scott Shellenberger, the district attorney of Maryland, told CNA that the maximum penalty for second degree burglary is 15 years in prison. For malicious destruction, damage less than $1,000 can result in 60 days in prison; damage over $1,000 can result in three years in prison, he said. 

Those with information about the crime can submit tips to iwatch@baltimorecountymd.gov. Tips can also be sent to Baltimore County police using this form. Anonymous tips may be sent using Metro Crime Stoppers of Maryland Website.