St. Augustine’s Stolen Tabernacle Remains Missing One Year After Theft

Tags: Currents Brooklyn, NY, Faith, Family, Inspiration, Media, Queens, NY

He couldn’t see it yet – but he could smell it. The shocking discovery plays over and over in Father Frank Tumino’s head, a tabernacle holding the body of Christ – was gone.

“We believed that because it had been covered by a steel protector by a dome that was on it we’re safe we don’t have to worry about this, we were wrong,” he said.

Memorial Day weekend last year was the perfect opportunity everyone was out of the city – the tabernacle – worth millions. But that’s not what made it extraordinary. In an age old tradition, generations of parishioners at St. Augustine gave of their most valued jewelry, making up part of the tabernacles ornate façade, that’s where they thought it would be safest and enshrined forever – priceless.

“I think of the people over 100 years who thought that in their love for God that the best place for their family jewelry was in God’s house that how sad for them,” he said.

Nothing was left behind but shards of metal ground down to dust and chips of marble, no images, no frame of video. The criminals cut the internet to the church the week prior and when they left with the tabernacle – took the church’s DVRs with them. Fr. Tumino hasn’t yet cleaned up the debris – he and his church community are still grieving.

“I really wanted to respect the feeling that it was irreplaceable, we honor that sacrifice, we honor that wound by not just glossing over it, not sanitizing what happened,” said Fr. Tumino.

Fr. Tumino says the investigation is still ongoing, he gets regular updates from the police and hopes that the $50,000 reward might one day mean seeing the faces of the people responsible.

“Churches throughout history have been resilient and they’re only resilient because of our faith and one year later, we’ll get there.”