Some Stolen Items From Denver Parish Church Recovered

The tabernacle and vessels used for Mass were recovered late last week.

Father Joseph Cao, assisted by Deacon Clarence McDavid, blesses the parts of the church affected by an Aug. 30 break-in during a Mass of reparation at Curé d'Ars Catholic Church in Denver on Sept. 1.
Father Joseph Cao, assisted by Deacon Clarence McDavid, blesses the parts of the church affected by an Aug. 30 break-in during a Mass of reparation at Curé d'Ars Catholic Church in Denver on Sept. 1. (photo: Jonah McKeown / CNA)

Several valuable items belonging to a Denver Catholic parish, including the tabernacle and vessels used for Mass, were recovered late last week, after the church was robbed nearly a month ago. Consecrated Hosts taken from the church were not found.

The predominantly African American parish of Curé d‘Ars, located in north Denver, was broken into and robbed overnight Aug. 30-31. All the church’s vessels used for Mass were stolen from the vestry, which the thieves accessed by kicking in a wooden door. 

The church’s tabernacle, containing the Eucharist, was stolen from the sanctuary. 

In a Sept. 25 post on the church’s Facebook page, Deacon Clarence McDavid reported that he had been called in by a detective working the case to look at items recovered from a man Denver police had recently arrested. 

The recovered items included a number of religious objects, including a tabernacle, a ciborium, a Communion bowl and a container used to hold the priest's Hosts.

“These items are clearly ours and have been retrieved from the police department. The person who is in police custody is believed to have broken into several other churches in the area,” Deacon McDavid wrote. 

Deacon McDavid said the consecrated Hosts contained in the tabernacle, however, were still missing and were “obviously dumped.”

The vessels found have now been cleaned up and are at the church, he said, though not every single vessel has been recovered. A larger ciborium is still missing, he noted. 

Speaking with CNA Sept. 27, Deacon McDavid said he wished to thank everyone who, moved by the story of the robbery, reached out with donations, well-wishes and prayers. 

“It certainly shows how connected we are as a Church. It’s been very moving to see,” he told CNA. 

The Denver Police Dept. confirmed to CNA that an arrest had been made related to the Cure d’Ars burglary and named the suspect as 37-year-old Deshaun Glenn. 

The Cure d’Ars burglary is believed to be a pattern burglary involving other churches, the police department confirmed to CNA. The investigation is ongoing, and any charges against Glenn will be determined by the district attorney. 

The thief, or thieves, also took a laptop used for livestreaming Masses and a sound board used to connect to the church's microphones. Those items were not among those recovered, and the church has since ordered new ones. 

The assailants also tore out several security cameras throughout the sanctuary, ensuring they would not be caught on video. Deacon McDavid said the security alarm company is set soon to replace the three security cameras that were stolen and broken.

The thieves also cut all the copper piping off of the building‘s furnaces downstairs and from a stairwell on the building’s exterior, flooding the church basement with water. The church currently has no heating or air conditioning as a result, Deacon McDavid said. 

“Work to replace all five furnaces and the air conditioner units will hopefully start within the next two weeks. As reported previously, we need to wait until the necessary supplies are available before the installation can happen. The company that we are working with has escalated the matter, as they know that we are without a heating or cooling system,” Deacon McDavid wrote in the Facebook post. 

Father Joseph Cao, the church‘s pastor, told CNA immediately following the robbery that he had no idea who could have done it. Around 8:40am on Aug. 31, Father Cao discovered that the church’s outer door had been pried open. 

Father Cao found an upturned chair and several unconsecrated hosts on the ground when he entered the sanctuary. He then saw that the tabernacle was gone and found the flood in the basement. 

“As you can imagine, this is very devastating for the entire community,” Deacon McDavid told CNA Sept. 1. 

“We have people who have been here probably since the mid-60s. ... I've been a deacon here for 34 years.”

Curé d'Ars parish dates to 1952, and its name honors St. John Vianney, the patron saint of parish priests who had care of souls in Ars, France, in the 19th century.

By the 1970s, thanks mainly to changing demographics in the area, Curé d'Ars served approximately 200 predominantly Black families. The current church building was dedicated in 1978 under pastor Father Robert Kinkel. The parish later welcomed Deacon Charlie Bright as the first African American deacon in the Denver Archdiocese.

The sanctuary was blessed and rededicated as a sacred space Aug. 31.

Oscar Wergeland, “Service in a German Village Church,” ca. 1880

This Sunday, I’ll Be Going to Church. Will You Join Me?

“The Sunday Eucharist is the foundation and confirmation of all Christian practice. For this reason the faithful are obliged to participate in the Eucharist on days of obligation, unless excused for a serious reason (for example, illness, the care of infants) or dispensed by their own pastor. Those who deliberately fail in this obligation commit a grave sin.” [CCC 2181]