By Marion V. Ali
The Assistant Pastor at Saint Martin de Porres Parish was robbed last Sunday night.
Father Brian Christopher reported to police that he was leaving the church after the parishioners had left and was taking the basket containing the church collections through the side door of the church to the parish office about 20 feet away.
Two assailants, who were apparently studying his movements and waiting for him to exit the building, approached him as he reached the parish office door.
Waving a gun in his face, one of the two attacked him from behind, knocking the basket out of his left hand, causing the money, which on Sundays normally amount to around $1,000 in cash and cheques, to scatter on the ground.
The armed robber kept the remaining parishioners, and Fr. Matt Ruhl, who were witnessing the incident, at bay with the warning to “back off” while the two robbers proceeded to retrieve what they could from the ground.
Upon doing so, they dashed out of the churchyard and up Partridge Street toward Mahogany Street.
Convinced that something was wrong, a few parishioners, who were about to drive off, noticed the two men running past them on Partridge Street and decided to follow them in their own vehicles. Though the two wore no masks, no one could identify them, but some people did see them get into what looked like a dark-coloured Toyota Camry further up the street and made good their escape.
Fr. Christopher, who is scheduled to return to the US next month on another assignment, has been serving the Lake Independence community for the past four and a half years.
Asked about his reaction to this recent robbery, he shared that this doesn’t deter his work as a man of faith.
“This is where we need to be…this is where the Gospel makes sense, talking about hope, this is where it makes sense,” he said.
The monies stolen are normally used to fund the church’s outreach programs and to avert a repeat of the robbery, the church is contemplating asking armed police officers to keep watch over the compound during its their Sunday mass.
The Police, meanwhile, have no tangible leads but are looking for one suspect in connection with the incident. They have also recovered some of the money that scattered when the thief knocked the collection basket out of the priest’s hand.