Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Burglars strike Bishop's Residence

A second American bishop has been robbed, this time a lot closer to home.

From the Republican:

The Most Rev. Timothy A. McDonnell, bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Greater Springfield, reported to police yesterday that a burglar apparently broke into his Elliott Street residence during the night and stole some jewelry and a large crucifix that signifies his rank in the church, officials said.

McDonnell was uninjured, and did not notice the objects missing until he woke up yesterday morning, said Mark E. Dupont, spokesman for the Springfield diocese.

According to police reports, McDonnell noticed the theft when he went to get dressed to go to work yesterday morning.

He had put the items away the night before when he went to bed, said Springfield police spokeswoman Marcia Brown.

McDonnell was awakened at about 3 a.m. when the burglary alarm at the bishop's residence sounded, she said. Police arrived and checked out the house and found everything in order, she said.

Dupont said police responded immediately when the alarm sounded without being called. The system is programmed to automatically trigger an alert at police headquarters, roughly two blocks away, he said.

Police found no signs of a break-in, and the bishop returned to sleep, not realizing he had been burglarized until about four hours later, Dupont said.

Taken were two watches, a ring and a pectoral cross, a type of crucifix suspended on a long chain that the bishop wears around his neck during formal ceremonies. It signifies his rank within the church.

Some cash was also taken, Dupont said. The police Criminal Investigations Bureau is investigating, Brown said.

Dupont said the monetary value of the items is probably not very high. The sentimental value, however, is very high.

One of the watches was given to McDonnell by his parents, and the pectoral cross was fashioned out of a crucifix that he was first given when he was anointed as a priest, Dupont said.

Dupont said the bishop is not angry, saying the church "is all about forgiveness."
He added the if the items were returned or somehow made their way back to McDonnell "the bishop would be eternally grateful."

The Bishop is asking for the items to be returned. I, for one, will be looking out for pectoral crosses and episcopal rings.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield issued an appeal today to the thief or thieves who robbed Bishop Timothy M. McDonnell of a large gold cross and other personal items in a break-in this week.

McDonnell wants the items back, as they have sentimental value, according to diocesan spokesman Mark E. Dupont.

"Obviously, there's an expense involved, but it's a sentimental loss more than anything," Dupont said.

"It would bring the bishop such joy if these items could find their way back to him," Dupont said.

Police, meanwhile, continue to investigate the theft, which occurred at the bishop's Elliot Street residence sometime through the night Monday or early Tuesday morning.

Police believe the break-in may have occurred at 3 a.m. Tuesday, when the burglary alarm sounded. A search of the house at that time, however, turned up nothing missing, and McDonnell went back to sleep.

It was only on waking for the day on Tuesday that McDonnell noticed the items missing.

Taken were two watches, a ring and a pectoral cross, a type of crucifix suspended on a long chain the bishop wears during formal ceremonies. It signifies his rank in the church, and McDonnell has had it since he was ordained a priest on June 1, 1963.

Dupont said the back of the cross is inscribed with his initials and that date. He had it hung on a chain when he was ordained a bishop on Dec. 12, 2001.

"It's not just a symbol of his office, but a reminder of his ordination," Dupont said.

One of the watches was a gift from his parents, both now dead.

"These are items that could be replaced, but you could never replace the sentimental value he has for them," Dupont said.

Police Capt. Robert A. Cheetham said detectives are working on the case today.

The thief or thieves may have a difficult time selling the cross, as it is distinctive and has been widely publicized as belonging to McDonnell since the break-in.

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