THE Garda Siochana at Ardee have asked anyone who may have noticed anything unusual taking place in the vacinity of Ballapousta Church on Saturday afternoon last 6 October to contact them at 041-68 53 222.
At 6.30pm on Saturday, the sacristan of St Catherine’s Church discovered that criminals had smashed in the sacristy door and took sacred vessels, two chalices, four ciboria and two pyxes, but the greatest shock and tragedy of all was the removal from the tabernacle the ciborium containing the Blessed Sacrament.
As a result, the church has been desecrated and cannot be used for worship until it is reconsecrated by the bishop or the vicar general.
This is likely to happen before next Sunday.
“The Blessed Sacrament is the real treasure in the church,” said Parish Priest Fr Peter Murphy, who, along with his parishioners, has been deeply shocked and hurt by the violation.
“It is the presence of Our Lord in the sacrament.
“The three most important things in the church are the Eucharist, the Word of God, and the people. Everything else - such as stained glass windows - are just an expression of faith.”
Earlier that day a wedding Mass had been celebrated in the church and Fr Murphy was attending the wedding celebrations when he was informed of the tragic events.
On Sunday, Mass was transferred to Ardee church and celebrated there at 10.15am.
“Hopefully we will have Mass in Ballapousta next Sunday,” Fr Murphy said. “People are so saddened by this.
“Often you here about vandalism and break-ins, but this is so alarming.”
Fr Murphy said this church has a special place in the lives of its parishioners.
But the tragedy of Ballapousta is that the criminals took everything from the tabernacle they considered valuable, including the most valuable thing of all, the Eucharist itself.