‘Non-Catholic’ stranger steps in after thief swipes precious chalice from church

Our Lady Star of the Sea Church Parish Priest Fr Paul Chanh with the new chalice. Picture: Tony Walm

Our Lady Star of the Sea Church Parish Priest Fr Paul Chanh with the new chalice. Picture: Tony Walmsley - Credit: Archant

A generous stranger has handed over a tidy sum to help a church replace a precious chalice that was stolen.

Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church in Gordon Road, Lowestoft, opened its doors to the public as part of a heritage open day, but a thief fled with the valuable silver communion chalice.

The crime rocked the church community but, as police continue to investigate the theft, the shocked officials have had their faith restored – after the kind-hearted stranger generously gave a significant donation to enable it to replace the important item.

The chalice, which is worth around £1,000, was stolen during an open day event over the two national heritage weekends in September.

A church spokesman said: 'CCTV did catch a man behaving suspiciously and leave the church in haste carrying a heavy black plastic bag which he did not have when he went in.'

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Parish treasurer Tony Walmsley said: 'A parishioner told a non-Catholic friend about the theft and they were so incensed about the tale that they promptly offered to contribute a substantial sum to the cost of a replacement chalice.'

Parish Priest Fr Paul Chanh said: 'As Holy Communion is the very heart of the Mass, the vessels we use are very special.

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'Having a chalice stolen was a sad blow indeed, especially when we had opened our spiritual home to the public - which we are determined to continue to do in the future.

'But then we were so lifted up by the generosity of a stranger who wants to remain anonymous,' he added.

'We are so grateful for this wonderful gesture.'

Fr Paul has since been on pilgrimage to Medjugorje, in Bosnia-Herzegovina, where he was able to buy a chalice which matches the style of other vessels already used during Mass at the church.

With the CCTV footage handed over to police, the church spokesman said officers were continuing their inquiries over the theft.

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