Tabernacle stolen from San Felipe de Neri Church in Old Town


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – It’s known as the spiritual heart of Albuquerque and serves as a landmark in the city. But Tuesday, police were there trying to find out who stole a spiritual item from this place of worship.

Rev. Andrew J. Pavlak at San Felipe de Neri Church says someone took the tabernacle from their adoration chapel.

He says what hurts him the most is the blessed sacrament inside is now also gone.

“I’m very angry, very sad,” Rev. Pavlak said.

Father Pavlak says after the holy Easter weekend, the last thing he wanted to deal with was the theft of a sacred vessel.

“When I came in for mass this morning, my sacristan said, ‘Where’s the tabernacle?’ I was just like, ‘What do you mean where’s the tabernacle? It’s not in gaspari?” Rev. Pavlak explained.

The brass tabernacle usually sits inside San Felipe de Neri’s adoration chapel.

“More importantly, the blessed sacrament is gone. That’s the bigger thing here for us, the tabernacle is irreplaceable,” Rev. Pavlak said .

It was an antique, likely dating back to the early 20th century.

“And so you lose that part and that can never be replaced,” Rev. Pavlak explained.

The chapel is open to anyone, anytime, who has a code and registers at the front office.

“You don’t go to the negative right away, but pretty quickly we realized that it had been taken,” he said.

Tuesday, Albuquerque Police was at the chapel looking for any clues as to who could have taken it.

Rev. Pavlak says someone must have swiped the tabernacle some time between 1:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Monday, when a worshiper noticed it was gone.

“And we do have lots of precautions to prevent this from happening but unfortunately even in the best cases you don’t have a hundred percent security,” Rev. Pavlak said.

He says Tuesday morning’s gospel hit him hard.

“Mary Magdalene arrives at the tomb today and she encounters the gardener, she encounters the angels and she asked the gardener, they’ve taken my Lord and I don’t know where they’ve laid him, and I’m just like…I got to that part of the gospel thinking of this, going, this is what we’re living right now,” Rev. Pavak said.

He says this has made him rethink the church’s security measures and adds that he will be making changes.

A replacement will cost about $4,000.

There is another tabernacle in the main church. That one can’t be removed from it’s place.

This isn’t the first time something like this has happened at an Albuquerque church. KRQE News 13 reported around Thanksgiving about the Church of the Ascension getting its tabernacle stolen.

KRQE News 13 later learned that someone dumped it in the mountains where it was found in pieces. That church has since purchased a new one.

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