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Pastor Preaches Forgiveness After Church Burglarized
 

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By Jorge Casuso

March 27, 2022 -- Msgr. Lloyd Torgerson preached the gospel of love and forgiveness Sunday after burglars made off with more than $100,000 in video and sound equipment from St. Monica's Catholic Church.

The burglars also attempted to pry open the antique tabernacle that houses the consecrated host and stole candle boxes and money from the donation box, church officials said.

In his sermon, Torgerson used the parable of The Prodigal Son, in which a father forgives the wayward, destitute son who has squandered his fortune and welcomes him home.

"The fact that we were violated in this situation is hard for me, and I know it's hard for you," said Torgerson, who has been St. Monica's pastor for 35 years.

"We have a challenge today," he said. "Somehow, some way we have to be able to forgive the people who did what they did to us Thursday night."

The burglars apparently hid inside the church Thursday afternoon before services ended and waited until parishioners had left and the doors were closed, Torgerson said.

Security footage aired by CBS Los Angeles shows a black male wearing a black t-shirt, black pants, white shoes and a white face mask surveying the church at around 4:30 p.m.

He looks behind the altar where the equipment used to videotape the masses during the COVID-19 pandemic was kept.

At around 9:30 p.m. the suspects began taking sound and live stream equipment from the church, Torgerson said.

Still photos from the security camera show what appears to be the man from the previous footage roaming inside the church with a flashlight.

Church officials believe he was one of at least three men involved in the burglary.

In his sermon during Sunday mass -- which was live streamed with equipment lent by parishioners -- Torgerson said the men left when a worker entered the church to clean up for the morning.

The worker "turned the light on and when he did, they ran out of the front door of the church," Torgerson said.

In an email to parishioners on Friday, Torgerson wrote, "Much of our camera and audio equipment was stolen, along with our candle boxes.

"All of that can be replaced, so we must be thankful that no one was in harm's way. They attempted to breach the tabernacle and it was damaged, but it held strong and protected the Blessed Sacrament.

"What an inspiring demonstration of the power of the Eucharist!"

On Sunday, Torgerson preached the message of forgiveness using Christ's parable of the Prodigal Son. In the story, a father forgives the wayward, destitute son who has squandered his fortune and welcomes him home.

"We have a challenge today," Torgerson said. "Somehow, some way we have to be able to forgive the people who did what they did to us Thursday night."

Sunday's sermon echoed the message he had sent parishioners in his email Friday.

"The drive and desperation of those who would violate a place of worship for material gain is confounding but not surprising.

"We must pray and forgive those who trespass against us," Torgerson wrote, quoting The Lord's Prayer, "and continue to work to serve the needs of others to bring contentedness and peace for all humankind."

As of 7 p.m. Sunday, the Santa Monica Police Department had not issued a press release concerning the incident.


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