by ROWENA OREJANA
An unexpected grace came out of the theft of a brass pyx with the Blessed Sacrament in Christchurch.
The pyx was stolen from an extraordinary minister’s car in early January.
The Christchurch Episcopal Vicar for Education, Fr John Adams, said the theft of the Blessed Sacrament is a sacrilege and a sorrow that the whole diocese shares.

Parishioners visitng the Blessed Sacrament at St Gregory's in reparation for the theft of the pyx containing the Holy Eucharist.
“But the beautiful, unexpected result of that theft has been heightened awareness amongst people of this diocese of the importance of keeping Our Lord safe … and I would say an increase in devotion to the Blessed Sacrament,” he said.
On January 17 Christchurch Bishop Barry Jones celebrated a special Mass with his priests in reparation for the theft of the pyx that contained the Holy Sacrament. The following Saturday, January 24, Christchurch parishes held special Masses and invited parishioners
to fast and visit the Blessed Sacrament.
“The call by Bishop Barry for everyone to fast and pay a visit to the Blessed Sacrament and [hold] special Masses really helped sort of deepen people’s love and reverence and respect for the Blessed Sacrament. That was unexpected, but many people spoke to me about that,” Fr Adams added.
Blogger Brendan Malone, who attended Mass celebrated by Bishop Jones, said he was deeply touched by the way the bishop responded to the situation.
“For me, it certainly challenged me to realise how much even in my own way, I have taken for granted the gift of the Eucharist. I was really touched by it. It’s a great example of a bishop who has taken what is obviously a tragedy and turned it into a really beautiful teaching moment,” he said.
Mr Malone said a lot of the people he has spoken to in the diocese reacted the same way.
Fr Adams stressed the theft was “serious business”.
“As Catholics, we believe that Jesus is truly present in the Blessed Sacrament, body, soul and divinity. And Catholics prize the Eucharist above all else. I think the Second Vatican Council called it the source and the summit of our faith,” he said.
“Even though it was a very unfortunate incident, it’s also been an opportunity for teaching and growth and love for our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. So it’s been unexpected grace,” he added.
The pyx, a small round container, which in this case was made of brass, was stolen from a glove compartment of a car belonging to a lay minister who was about to take the consecrated host to a sick parishioner.
“The person is feeling really terrible. They are truly sorry. There’s no ill-will towards that minister,” Fr Adams said.
However, the incident brought focus to the need to make sure the Blessed Sacrament is always
in a safe place or “to make sure it’s always on our person”, Fr Adams further explained.
noted lay ministers are extremely conscientious in
performing their tasks, but it is desirable that they review the performance of their tasks with their parish priests from time to time.
“The parish priest is the person responsible for the oversight of the ministers who carry the Blessed Sacrament to the sick and housebound. The expectation is that it will be carried direct from the church to the person being visited. If, because of circumstances, the person to be visited cannot receive it at that time, the minister is advised to devoutly consume
the host him- or herself,” Msgr Mahoney said.
Palmerston North Vicar General Fr Brian Walsh said their policy “is that the host or hosts be returned to the tabernacle immediately”.
In St Joseph’s parish in Papanui, Fr Adams said the number of people who visited the Blessed
Sacrament more than trebled after Bishop Jones made the call. On that Saturday (January 24), the Blessed Sacrament was exposed at the main church instead of in the perpetual adoration chapel.

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