Parish under siege by criminals
BY SAMUEL FRANCIS IMC
People used to go to church to find peace, to seek consolation, hope, strength and direction. Nowadays there are those who go to disturb that peace, cause confusion, destruction and disorder, turning their frustrations and anger on Godís house.
Of †late our churches have become soft targets for bandits. Sometimes when we hear news about places of worship being broken into, it sounds so remote and so we might react to it casually, but when you come face to face with such a reality, you realise just how much we have lost the way as a generation.
In the past few weeks our church has suffered a number of break-ins which have amazed and baffled Christians in equal measure.
St Lambert church is run under the auspices of the Consolata Missionaries and is one of the four missions that form Daveyton parish in the archdiocese of Johannesburg.
Within less than two weeks, the church was repeatedly vandalised and robbed of valuables. In the first burglary the thieves shattered a number of windows and broke many door handles, and vandalised the electric system as they took away all the electric cables, leaving the church with no lighting system.
A day later, they came back and forced their way into the sacristy; they broke the cupboards and carried away all the vessels, including bottles of wine and the sound system. As if that was not enough, they carried away the tabernacle, complete with the Blessed Eucharist, and crowned their foul act by pulling down the pillar on which the tabernacle was erected.
Though heartbroken and dejected, the parishioners did not give up; measures were taken that saw watchmen employed, electricians called in to restore the wiring system while other technicians replaced the window panes and broken door knobs.
That very night, the thieves returned and once again vandalised the wiring system, taking away all the cables, including those that were yet to be installed since the work was only half way to its completion.
A few days later, a young man jumped into the compound and shattered one of the windows that had been replaced. This happened in broad daylight, and those who saw him gave chase and got hold of him. When he was taken to the police station, the police said there was no evidence and so they could not lock him up. He was set free.
We are living in times when criminals see churches as soft targets, so there is a great need for all Christians to be vigilant and observant, to keep watch over their places of worship and to be alert when they notice any suspicious activities or movements of strangers within the church premises.
The war against crime can be won only if everybody is brought on board. To reach this goal we need a shared responsibility, a shared commitment and friendly collaboration, else we shall remain at the mercy of bandits.