The Stonington Police Department is looking for the man responsible for taking a collection box from a retreat center last week.
Police released surveillance photos of the theft that happened at the St. Edmund's Retreat on Enders Island on Sept. 12.
To Father Thomas Hoar, Enders Island in Mystic is a place for recovery, and a place to find peace.
He said they never lock the doors of the chapel on site, and will never stop someone from going inside when they need a quiet moment to reflect.
“I've been here 23 years and we've never locked the chapel,” Hoar said. "Things have happened, people have done things, but we live in hope.”
But last Tuesday, Father Hoar was alerted that the collection box, which sits at the entry of the chapel of 'Our Lady of the Assumption,' was missing.
They searched everywhere on the island, and finally looked at the surveillance video.
"There was a group of priests here on retreat and we saw them coming into the chapel. And this fellow in a gray hoodie came over and went into the chapel and leave and walk by the security camera,” Hoar said.
Once the group of priests left from the chapel, “This fellow came back with his hoodie up, took the collection box and walked right by the security camera again,” Father Hoar said.
He said it is unclear how much money was in the collection box, but half of their budget, about $1 million, comes from the donations.
"If the guy had said, listen I'm having a hard time... we would have helped,” he said. “We prayed for him the next day at mass."
The most upsetting part to Father Hoar was that the collection box was built and donated to the chapel by a man who passed away this summer.
"And I know he put his heart and soul into building it for the chapel,” Hoar said.
According to its website, St. Edmund's Retreat was recognized as one of the "premiere Catholic retreat centers in the Northeast."
Anyone with any information about the theft or suspect is asked to call the Stonington Police Department at 860-599-7541 or by emailing them at email@example.com.
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