Recovered: Priest’s $6,000 Stolen Chalice

But in so many ways, it’s not something you can put a price on.

Details, from the St. Louis Review:

When he was ordained to the priesthood four years ago, Father Noah Waldman took some of the money he had saved over the years and bought himself his first chalice. The handmade vessel was commissioned by Church supplier Adrian Hamers of New York and modeled after a chalice [shown on the left] used by St. Philip Neri, a 16th century Italian priest and Father Waldman’s personal patron saint.

He paid about $6,000 for the silver- and gold-plated chalice, depleting half of his savings. And earlier this month, right before he was to leave for a new parish assignment, Father Waldman’s chalice was stolen from the sacristy of Sts. Joachim and Ann Parish in St. Charles, where he had served as an associate pastor since his 2008 ordination

The chalice, which today is valued at a little under $10,000, is one of several items that were stolen from the parish in mid-June. Several offertory boxes, containing an unknown amount of money, were burglarized, along with other items from the parish.

As the Review went to press June 27, Father Waldman confirmed that the chalice was returned to him. St. Peters Police arrested 20-year-old Sean McDonald of St. Charles County. The chalice turned up at a St. Charles jewelry store. The store owner contacted police after seeing a news report about the stolen chalice. McDonald turned himself in after learning he was a suspect in the theft.

Father Waldman explained that while he considers the theft unjust, he believes that in some way it was just simply part of God’s providence. He added that as a priest, he has a special devotion to his paten and chalice — the sacred vessels used in consecrating the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ — because of his eucharistic spirituality.

“The Body of Christ and the Blood of Christ not only touch these vessels, they are created in them,” he said. “This is the center of the eucharistic action. It’s very traditional in eucharistic devotion for a priest to have a special love for the sacred vessels, his chalice especially.”

The has additional details:

Waldman, a convert from Judaism, said that traditionally a priest’s first chalice is a present from his parents.

But because his father had died and his mother didn’t understand the tradition, he bought the $6,000 chalice with his own savings. It is sterling silver and covered in gold and is inscribed with his name and the 2008 date of his ordination.

“That’s where the bread and wine becomes the body and blood of Christ,” he explained. “It is a sacred object to us. It has a lot of sentimental and devotional value.”

Waldman said parishioners had been praying for the chalice’s return, but in the meantime, he made plans to buy a new one.

Then on Wednesday morning, Sean M. McDonald, of the 900 block of Cottontail Lane in St. Charles County, turned himself in at a Cottleville fire station after realizing he was a suspect.

The firefighters called police. McDonald admitted stealing from church donation boxes and taking the chalice, police said. He knew the entry code to get into the church because a family member is a parishioner and he had gone into the church many times himself, authorities said.

He took it to a St. Charles jeweler who paid him $100 for it. The jeweler hadn’t realized the chalice was stolen and contacted police after seeing news reports about it, police said.

McDonald was charged Wednesday with burglary and theft.

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