Vestments stolen from priest’s car as he said Mass

A priest yesterday appealed to smash-and-grab thieves to return altar vessels and vestments stolen from his car while he said Mass.

Fr Kevin McNamara said a silver chalice, ciborium and the vestments, embroidered by his late mother, were of huge sentimental value to him.

Thieves broke a side window in his car parked outside the Church of the Most Holy Rosary, Gneeveguilla, Co Kerry. They snatched the items, which were in a case on a back seat.

The incident occurred on Sept 25 but was not made public until yesterday.

“I would ask whoever is involved to leave the items somewhere, maybe in a church, and that would be the end of the matter as far as I’m concerned,” he said.

“My mother died the week I was ordained, in 1980, and she did the embroidery a short time before her death. These items obviously mean a huge amount to me and I dearly want them back.

“The local community is very caring and people have been fantastic. They are stunned by what happened,” Fr McNamara said.

A second car was also broken into outside the church, on the same evening, and a mobile phone and sum of money was stolen.

Gardaí in Kanturk, Co Cork, are investigating and have issued an appeal to the public.

Inspector Tony Sugrue said thefts from cars parked outside churches while people attended services were becoming more common.

“People attending Mass are more trusting than those who are targeting them,” he said.

He said criminal gangs were travelling from big urban centres to rural areas which they saw as soft targets. He urged people not to leave valuables exposed to view in cars.

Appealing for the return of the goods, he said there would be a very limited market for such items and it might not be easy to dispose of them.

Anybody who may have seen suspicious activity outside Gneeveguilla church between 7.35pm and 8.05pm on Sept 25 can contact gardaí in Kanturk on 029-20680.

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