CLEVELAND - Pastor Robert Reidy said for him, it was a new experience. In all his years of serving the public under the Roman Catholic Church his churches had never been violated by anyone committing a robbery.
"It was a first for me," said Reidy. "I've been here for 5 years and we've never had a break-in."
Before coming to Cleveland, Reidy said he served for the Church's mission in El Salvador. That stint gave Reidy the love and understanding of the vast Spanish-speaking culture of the Latino community helping him now as pastor of Iglesia de La Sagrada Familia on Detroit Ave., at W.77th St.
"For me it's a great cultural experience to get so many different cultures here. People lump all the Hispanics together, but when you talk about a Peruvian and a Puerto Rican, it's like talking about an Italian and the French. They're not the same. They are very, very different. The only thing common is the language, but the cultures are very different. This church's name means 'The Holy Family,' so it's centered on Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. It was formed from two separate communities who were brought together, the joining of two entities. It's primarily Hispanic. We have 17 Hispanic nationalities represented here. It's a very diverse parish," said Reidy.
But, sometime late Wednesday, June 18, Reidy said one or more individuals acting as parishioners may have hidden themselves away after an evening mass, only to help themselves to parts of the church's sound system, food from the kitchen, ceremonial wine, and two "poor boxes" left out for generous parishioners to donate to local and world-wide causes.
"We still aren't sure what all is missing. They got into several parts of the church. The police couldn't find a point of entry. I think they may have been here for the 6:30 service and stayed somewhere inside," said Reidy.
Reidy said detectives were back at the church today to gather more information. A shopping cart was discovered nearby that may have been used to haul away the stolen property. The types of items taken left Reidy scratching his head.
"They took speakers and wireless microphone transmitters, but not the receivers. They are worthless without those. But they took the money from inside the poor boxes, they just took both boxes. They broke into the kitchen and took 24 dozen eggs along with shopping bags of food meant for distribution the next day on Thursday. The took two gallons of wine that we purchase from a company for our church services. They had to have quite a haul in that shopping cart, probably sometime after midnight early Thursday morning. You would think someone had to have seen something. It's right next to the hospital and Detroit Avenue is usually every busy," said Reidy.
Volunteering at the church Tuesday for an upcoming event, Manuela Pena said it doesn't make sense, "The church is there to help the poor."
"It's just a terrible thing to do. I mean the church trusts the community and now what are going to do. We're working with them, helping them being open, our doors open, and this is now what they are practically disrespecting the church," said Pena.
Reidy said the open-door policy may have to change to ensure the safety of his parish.
"We're going to have to install some kind of a security system here now. There's no way around it. We're going to change the amount of cameras we have. I hate to have to do that but to protect the people who have worked so hard and what we have here. we just have to," said Reidy.
"I hope that someone will come forward giving the police some information. I'm not not confident in it, but I hope someone's conscience will get the better of them and they will bring some of the stolen stuff back."
Reidy said the tally of that which has gone missing isn't worked out with the police yet, but said it will be over $6000 to replace so far.
"We will forgive, but we will not forget," added Reidy.