The NYPD is investigating the desecration and vandalism of a historic Roman Catholic Church at Sixth Avenue and Sterling Place in Park Slope. The perpetrator(s), currently at large, desecrated and stole the Tabernacle, which holds the Holy Eucharist and which dated back to when the church was built in the late 1800s.
Fr. Frank Tumino, the pastor of St. Augustine who discovered the vandalism on Saturday af- ternoon, May 28, said the perpetrators cut through a metal protective casing and made off with the sacramental receptacle, which is irreplaceable because of its historical and artistic value.
Authorities believe that perpetrators used a high-capacity power tool to cut the heavy steel case that enclosed the ornate gold and silver tabernacle. Moreover, the reserved Sacrament (consecrated hosts saved for pas- toral visitations) were strewn on the floor and the angel statuary was destroyed. Some marble fixtures surrounding the tabernacle were shattered as the burglars tried to pull their target free of its anchors.
A safe in the sacristy was also cut open, but was already empty.
“This is devastating, as the Tabernacle is the central focus of our church outside of worship, holding the Body of Christ, the Eucharist, which is delivered to the sick and homebound,” Father Tumino said during a press conference following Mass on Sunday.
“To know that a burglar entered the most sacred space of our beautiful Church and took great pains to cut into a security system is a heinous act of disrespect,” continued Tumino.
Spokespersons for the Diocese told the Eagle on Tuesday afternoon that police remained on the scene with their investigation.
Anyone with informa- tion that can help police withtheirinvestigationis asked to call the NYPD at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477).
St. Augustine Church was originally founded in 1870 and is now partnered with a neighboring parish on Sixth Avenue, both of which use the name St. Augustine-St. Francis Xavier Parish.
According to a program on NET-TV, the tabernacle was designed by architect AlbertParfittin1895and was decorated with the personal jewels that parish- ioners had donated.
The current church building was dedicated just over 130 years ago, on May 15, 1892, with newly-consecrated Bishop Charles Mc- Donnell, presiding, in his first official liturgical ac- tion of his episcopacy. The Brooklyn Eagle at the time declared the Gothic Re- vival,HighVictorianstyle, cruciform church to be “one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture in the country.”