Praying to recover a treasure

Chalice stolen in Rosedale burglary was to be used in family member's ordination

November 01, 2006|By Jennifer McMenamin | Jennifer McMenamin,Sun reporter

Patricia Barbernitz was alarmed when she returned one morning last week from an overnight trip to find the front door of her Rosedale home open, her lights on and drawers and closets rifled.

But when she ran upstairs to check on what she most hoped had not been stolen -- the gold-plated chalice and Communion plate given to her eldest brother in 1950 when he was ordained a priest -- her heart sank.

The chalice and plate -- stored in the family's safe-deposit box since the Rev. John Barbernitz's death in 2002 -- were to be used this weekend when the pastor's nephew is ordained a priest.

"It has so much meaning for our family, far beyond the elements that make it up," Patricia Barbernitz said this week.

The Barbernitz family is offering a $500 reward for the safe return of the chalice. It can be returned anonymously to the pastor of St. Clement Roman Catholic Church at 1220 Chesaco Ave. in Rosedale.

Patricia Barbernitz recently retrieved the chalice and plate from safekeeping to be polished before the Saturday ordination of her nephew, Friar David Kashen.

The pair of heirlooms were to be used again Sunday when Kashen celebrates his first Mass as a priest at St. Clement, the same parish where his uncle said his first Mass 56 years ago.

John Barbernitz spent half his career -- 26 years -- as an Army chaplain, serving two tours of duty in Vietnam, his sister said. He also served several parishes in the Archdiocese of Baltimore and the Diocese of Mobile, Ala.

The 9-inch chalice is silver with hammered gold plating, diamond and ruby chips and an inscription. The 6-inch Communion plate, called a paten, is gold and engraved with the Madonna and Child.

Both items, along with pieces of jewelry, valued together at $3,500, were stolen from Barbernitz's home in the 7900 block of Elmhurst Ave. in Rosedale between 6 a.m. Oct. 24 and 10:30 a.m. the next day, Baltimore County police said.

Police said that a couple of burglaries have occurred in the neighborhood, and that they are checking area pawn and coin shops for the chalice and paten.

Barbernitz said that everyone in her family's circle of friends is praying for the return of the chalice before this weekend -- including Barbernitz's sister, who is a nun, and her colleagues at the religious retirement home where she lives in Pennsylvania.

"They said this thief doesn't know what he's up against with all these nuns praying for this," Barbernitz said.

jennifer.mcmenamin @baltsun.com

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