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Theft of Brooklyn Church’s Gold Tabernacle Stabs at Hearts of Faithful

Whoever took the St. Augustine’s tabernacle also tossed the eucharist across the altar, and decapitated a statue of an angel, the diocese said. For those who adhere to the Catholic faith, the strewing about of the eucharist was nearly as sacrilegious as the burglary of its receptacle, a diocese spokeswoman said.

Maryann Taranto, a Brooklynite who attended Father Tumino’s Tuesday morning service, said afterward that St. Augustine had been her main parish for 35 years.

“For somebody to come in and desecrate our church is a horror,” Ms. Taranto, 69, said, adding that would be praying for the tabernacle’s return.

“I don’t know any more,” she said. “Today, little kids are getting killed all over this country. So there’s no respect for life, there’s no respect for property, there’s no respect for anything.”

The tabernacle, which measured around two feet tall, was likely weighted — a tradition to keep it from being carried off. In the 2013 church program, Father Whelan said that it would cost at least $500,000 to replace such a sacred item.

“And, that’s obviously very heavy, too,” the program’s host joked, nodding toward the relic.

“Yes,” Father Whelan responded, the two men chuckling. “Yes.”

Liam Stack contributed reporting. Kitty Bennett contributed research.

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