Parishioners at St. Thomas Aquinas Roman Catholic Church are trying to find it in their hearts to forgive the man, seen in a surveillance video, stealing from a church donation box. St. Thomas, like other religious institutions, had to close its doors to worshipers because of the pandemic.  Services have only resumed within the month, and at only 25 percent capacity.

So when members found out donations had been plundered, their first reaction was anger.

“The church? Are you kidding? It’s just disgusting,” said parishioner Mary Martinez. “I understand with the coronavirus, but this is a church of God. If you’re going to do something like that, it’s just unbelievable!”

“It’s just a shame that this is going on in the community and I just pray for these people,” added John Farrell, another parishioner.

Church officials say they reported the theft to the NYPD after a Franciscan nun made the discovery around 4 P.M. Friday while sanitizing the pews.

Church officials say while the man appears to be praying for quite some time, they believe he was waiting to be alone in the church to commit the robbery.

“We are so lucky because this time it was just money,” said Father Willy Kingsley Ndi. “It could have been worse, it could have been someone’s life. We really thank God that nothing bad happened.”

One clergy members told us the church would have gladly helped anyone in need, as long as they rang the door to ask for help. 

“The church is here for the community and we are always ready to respond to that need,” Father Willy Kingsley Ndi said. “So just come and ask and we would give you. Don’t steal. Steal is never the right thing to do.

Anyone with information is urged to call Crimestoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS.