MORRIS TWP. - A valuable gold and silver Lamb of God monstrance that was believed to be stolen during a burglary at St. Thomas More Church has been found in its case in a church closet, Pastor Joseph Farias said Sunday.
The priest who has been at the Convent Station-based church for the past six years said he was "very relieved" to find the vessel that holds the Eucharist and is used on special occasions in a ritual called the Benediction. The vessel is valued at about $10,000.
The monstrance, along with cash from donation boxes, disappeared during a suspected burglary at the church sometime on the night of Nov. 18 or the early morning of Nov. 19. The Morris County Sheriff's Office CrimeStoppers program featured the suspected break-in as its crime of the week, offering a reward of up to $1,000 for information.
CrimeStoppers Chairman John Sette said the pastor mentioned the discovery of the monstrance at Mass time Saturday evening.
"Father Joe was very happy," Sette said.
The pastor said that on Wednesday he cleaned out the closet where the monstrance is stored in a three-foot-high case and didn't see it. The church doors were unlocked for several hours on Thanksgiving, the first time since the break-in. Then, just before Mass on Saturday, the pastor said, he found the monstrance in its case in the closet.
The pastor said he thought the disappearance was coincidental because he just heard about a monstrance being stolen from a church in Queens, N.Y.
Authorities had thought the monstrance belonging to St. Thomas More church was destined for a pawn shop or for sale on the Internet because of its precious metal value.