The Sunday collection, stolen and recovered

The Sunday collection, stolen and recovered

communionatstanthonys-webFirst Communion children walk in line at St. Anthony of Padua Parish, Camden, on May 4.

Photo by Father William “Jud” Weiksnar, OFM

The robbery was daring, and the recovery even more so. An armed man who stole the collection from St. Anthony of Padua Church in Camden was chased by two ushers and another parishioner in an SUV, and the money was recovered.
But perhaps the bravest action came later, when two parishioners who are related to the thief came to the rectory.
“The basically apologized, and they gave me a lot of history of what was going on,” said Franciscan Brother Karl Koening.
“We would like to see him get the appropriate help, not jail time. Jail will not solve the problem,” said Brother Karl, adding that the offender is young. “We are here to help people, not lock them up.”
The 72-year-old friar, who had open heart surgery six months ago, was carrying the collection money the short distance from the church to the rectory after Mass May 4 when a young man pointed a gun at him, snatched the bag and ran.
Mass was barely over and the pastor, Franciscan Father William “Jud” Weiksnar, was still posing for photos outside the church with children who had made their first Communion. There had been more than 1,000 people at Mass.
Brother Karl had been walking with two ushers, Franciso Torres and Jose Garcia, who immediately started chasing the robber. Meanwhile, another parishioner with an SUV, who saw the robbery, also gave pursuit. The robber pointed his gun at the driver, causing him to swerve, and climbed over a fence. That’s when he dropped the cash and kept running.
The robber, 20, has been arrested and charged. Brother Karl said he had been encouraged to turn himself in to the police.
The friar, who has been assigned to the parish for five years, was impressed with the parishioners who were responsible for retrieving the money, but he was worried someone would get hurt.
He said it was one of the largest collections the parish has ever had, but it wasn’t worth anyone getting shot. He said the police have offered to be on hand in the future when the collection is taken from the church.
Located in the Cramer Hill section of Camden, St. Anthony of Padua Parish includes a school and Francis House, a ministry to individuals with HIV/AIDS and their friends and family.

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