BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Police in Buffalo are looking for a man who they said used a screwdriver to steal a tabernacle, one of the most sacred items of worship, from Saint Martin of Tours on Abbott Road in South Buffalo.
"The tabernacle is placed over here on a side alter a place of honor where people can come in and spend some time before the Blessed Sacrament, which is in the tabernacle," said Father Joseph Sicari, "and they're able to offer prayers not only for themselves but for the parish, for Western New York, and the world community."
Parishioners are praying that the man who made off with the gold tabernacle on Wednesday afternoon will return it to the church.
"We believe that yesterday, about 1 o'clock, somebody came in, or persons, a person or persons, came in an took the tabernacle. The tabernacle is the sacred location where we keep the Blessed Sacrament, which we believe is the body of Christ," said Sicari.
Getting away with the tabernacle couldn't have been easy. It weighs between 40 and 50 pounds, making it nearly impossible for the thief to get away on foot.
"You know, they had to be looking this place over, they had to be planning this. It wasn't something you just say, 'okay, I'm going to do that today." It's something that they may have planned," said Sicari.
Police say the person of interest may have also been scoping out Our Lady of Victory in Lackawanna the night before.
Ceil Feeley comes to St. Martin every day for adoration. The Eucharist is an important part of her worship.
"That's sad. That's sad that someone would have to do something like that," said Feeley.
The stolen tabernacle has been replaced with another one so parishioners can continue normal worship. In the meantime, Sicari is hoping the thief will find it in his heart to return the tabernacle to its rightful home.
"Again, we hope and pray that this person or persons does come forward and not only returns the tabernacle and the Blessed Sacrament but gets the help that they need in order to become a productive member of our society," said Sicari.
Anyone with any information is asked to call or text the Buffalo Police Department's confidential tipline at (716) 847-2255.