God works in mysterious ways
A stolen crucifix has been returned – a little worse for wear – to St Patrick’s Cathedral.
The artefact stolen from the church chapel last August was recovered in a bizarre series of events last month.
The church was contacted by a young Catholic defence lawyer who had seen a homeless man holding the crucifi outside the Auckland District Court.
Church staff confronted the man, who admitted he had stolen the crucifix more than a year ago.
St Patrick’s business manager Kevin Sherlock says they recognised the crucifix despite alterations – both arms had been broken and taped back up and extra blood added.
Mr Sherlock says the man, who is known to cathedral staff, was happy to return the artefact once he realised who they were.
“We said a few prayers and he handed it back to us.”
Pa Peter Tipene, a priest at St Patrick’s Hibiscus Coast parish, owns the cross and says he is delighted to have it back.
“It’s one of my treasures.”
It was gifted to him by a convent of women called the Cluny sisters, who are based in Remuera.
He gave it to staff at St Patrick’s to look after while he travelled overseas and it hung for two years in the chapel at Liston Hall while the cathedral was being restored.
He says learning the cross had been stolen last year was distressing.
“I was so upset because it’s such a beautiful piece,” he says.
“I hoped for a while it would be found but after a few months I gave up on it.”
He is absolutely thrilled to have the crucifix home and spoke about it in a sermon last week.
After repairs it will hang on the wall in his presbytery.
“I don’t want it to go walkabout again.”
But the return of the cross was tainted by bad news, as cathedral staff investigated another burglary.
A laptop computer, data projector and about $700 cash were stolen from the presbytery on October 30.
Mr Sherlock says although there has been the odd thing taken from inside the cathedral, this is the church’s first serious theft.
They are hopeful that the items will be returned after a staff member was able to identify the suspect on a police photo board.
Detective senior sergeant Steve Breach says police have a strong line of inquiry on a suspect who was seen acting suspiciously on the presbytery grounds around the time of the burglary and are investigating the matter.