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Arrest Made in Theft at Chapel of Medical Center on Staten Island
By CHRISTIE L. CHICOINE

A 27-year-old male has been charged with grand larceny of religious items totaling $5,000 from the chapel of Richmond University Medical Center on Staten Island.

According to the NYPD, Christopher Scognamiglio of Staten Island was also charged with criminal mischief on April 6 for the incident that occurred March 23.

Entrance to the chapel, which is adjacent to the lobby, was made around 3 a.m., according to reports.

Taken were five gold pyxes, small containers used to carry and distribute consecrated hosts on Communion calls to the sick and homebound, and a gold lunette that contained a consecrated host, said Father Michael Arputham, the Catholic chaplain assigned to the medical center located at 355 Bard Ave.

As of April 11, neither the Blessed Sacrament nor the items had been recovered.

Father Arputham, who is a priest in residence at Our Lady of Pity rectory on Staten Island, told CNY that a volunteer sacristan discovered the tabernacle was open and scratched when he entered the chapel before noon on March 23 to set up for the noon Mass. Another chaplain, Father Wilfred Dodo, a parochial vicar at Holy Child parish on Staten Island, had been assigned to offer the noon Mass at the chapel, which was celebrated as scheduled. (The main ciborium that contained consecrated hosts had not been disturbed inside the tabernacle, according to Father Arputham.)

It was important that the Mass was offered, “in spite of the disruption,” Father Arputham said.

“This week, in the Holy Week, as we celebrate the mysteries of our salvation, it only helps us to be strengthened in our faith,” he told CNY April 10.

Just as Easter becomes a “hope for humanity,” he continued, “we have the hope that everything is going to be victorious in our life,” despite unfortunate circumstances such as the theft at the chapel.

Father Arputham said he was off site on another ministerial duty at the time the incident was discovered by the sacristan but promptly returned to the medical center after learning what had happened.

The hospital administration and police were contacted, as were archdiocesan officials, he said.

Auxiliary Bishop John O’Hara rededicated the tabernacle and chapel the afternoon of March 30, Father Arputham said. Bishop O’Hara is the episcopal vicar of Staten Island and South, East and West Manhattan.

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