St. John Parish donations stolen

| August 9, 2010

Someone might be helping himself to donations for the poor at St. John R.C. Parish, 1986 Post Road, according to police and Monsignor Frank McGrath, the parish pastor.

The parish reported on Wednesday, July 28, an estimated $800 stolen from votive boxes since May.

“We noticed a lot less money in the votive boxes and figured someone might be tapping it,” McGrath told The Darien Times. The donation boxes are beside candles where parishioners traditionally would leave money after lighting a candle and praying.

According to police, parish staff placed marked bills in donation boxes and found the bills missing.

“We asked the Darien Police for advice,” McGrath said. “They talked to a gentleman who was in the church regularly at the time of the theft.”

Since then, there have been no thefts, according to McGrath.

The problem of theft from the votive boxes is not uncommon, McGrath said. “Poor boxes in Catholic and Protestant churches are a common target. It happens,” he said.

The parish has been stolen from before, and on a much larger scale.

In May 2006, it was discovered former pastor the Rev. Michael Jude Fay was using church money to support a lavish lifestyle, which included trips to Europe, the Caribbean and other parts of the United States.

An August 2006 independent audit commissioned by the Diocese of Bridgeport, reported that St. John lost at least $1.4 million since 2000. Fay became church pastor in 1991.

More than a year later, he pleaded guilty to interstate transportation of money obtained by fraud and was sentenced to 37 months in federal prison and ordered to pay $1,027,989 in restitution. He died in prison last August.

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