CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wis. (WCCO) — Church officials in Chippewa Falls are heartbroken after a thief made off with tens of thousands of dollars, some of it intended for an orphanage in Peru.
Father William Felix says the money was collected during six Christmas services at St. Charles Borromeo Church in Chippewa Falls.
He says he was “sickened” by the theft, discovered Monday, a commandment broken in the holiest of places.
“This sacred place has been somehow violated,” said Father Felix. “When you think of the purpose of the church and the true spirit that is there supporting the mission of helping people, and someone comes along and does this.”
Felix says the collection was taken sometime Sunday afternoon around 1 p.m. after their services or early Monday. He says it was safeguarded in its normal location, but when his finance manager and parishioners came to deposit the money on Monday morning it was gone. He also noticed small signs of forced entry.
“There seemed to be a knowledge of where it was,” said Felix.
Felix says much of the money taken was a special collection set aside for Casa Hogar, an orphange the church sponsors in Peru every year.
“This year, we got word they were really in desperate financial straits, because of economic situations,” said Felix. “They (thief) did take food out of the mouths of orphans and then also our own parish and church. I would not want to stand before my judgment and my God, having done that.”
The church has sent letters to around 850 church members so they can cancel checks or protect their account information as necessary.
In the letter, Father Felix also asked them pray “for the soul of a person who contemplates such an egregious selfish act.”
Felix says parisioners have come forward, willing to donate again, and he’s even had calls from concerned people in the Twin Cities.
He says that’s given him inspiration for his Sunday homily, on the Ephiphany.
“The light shines on in the darkness, and you never know where it is going to come from,” said Felix.
Chippewa Falls Police say they have no one in custody and they are still looking for suspects.
WCCO-TV’s Lindsey Seavert Reports