Over the past few weeks I have heard some concern over the doors of the our churches being locked too much. I understand your complaints and that you want to know more about why we are doing this. Truth is over that last month we have had a rash of attempted to break-ins and even burglarizing our facilities, especially at St. Peter. This has resulted in some people being caught on our roof at all hours of the day and night trying to get in and the recent theft of personal property such as money and purse-wallets (ie. identity, credit cards, etc.) during Mass. Within an hour, these burglaries rack up huge credit cards debts, canvasing the St. Cloud area and maxing out these stolen identities. This is something we simply have to try to stop or at the very least shorten the window of opportunity for them.
As a result, I have requested Pat Applegate and Gredo Goldstein (our Maintenance men) to tighten the security of the facilities significantly at both St. Peter and St. Paul. What this means is that until further notice fewer doors will be programed to be open during Communion Services, scheduled meetings and weekday Mass. Also, the times in which these doors will be allowed to be open will be limited as well. For example: Doors will be open no more than 15 minutes prior to any scheduled meetings and all doors will be programed to be closed within the first a ½ hour at the start of these meetings. During the weekday and weekend Masses doors will be open only ½ hour prior to the service and be closed ½ into the service which means during actual Mass itself! What these criminals are doing is coming into our building during these gatherings and taking whatever they can. Also, I ask that under no conditions does anyone use a doorstop to keep a door open during a gathering. These people are quick and professional at their crimes.
It’s sad that we have to resort to this, but for the time-being, it’s the best strategy we have. I just ask everyone to please be vigilant where you leave your personal items and to be observant when you see a strange person coming into church who seems to be lost. Don’t be afraid to ask them if they need assistance or help. You will either help them if they need help or you will deter their deviant plans. I asked that our ushers too be observant and if anyone happens to just step outside during Mass and gets locked out, to please be aware and let them in if the doors are locked.
Overall, I don’t want to be afraid, but the sad reality is that this is the world we live in. Most of these thieves are simply ‘opportunists and don’t pose any real threat. It simply means we need to use our common sense.