Special mass celebrates new tabernacle at Indio church

Parish comes together after three burglaries shake the congregation.

Indio church blesses new tabernacle

INDIO, Calif. - Considered a center piece of a Catholic Church, the holy tabernacle serves an invaluable purpose in mass.

"That houses our Lord for us. When we consecrate the Eucharist, whatever is left we put in the tabernacle as a place for people to go and pray, and to go and spend time with our Lord," said Father Alex Gamino, a priest at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Indio.

"It's important to receive Him when we come to mass," said parishioner Iliana Flores, who has attended the church for as long as she can remember.

From December to February, Our Lady of Perpetual Help fell victim to a series of burglaries.

Among the items stolen, audio video equipment, a donation box and the church's gold-plated tabernacle, worth more than $20,000.

"It was a hard time for everyone, everyone was in shock," Flores said.

"The value of the tabernacle is priceless, because it holds the Host," said Richard Twiss, Chief of Police at the Indio Police Department and a church member who was married at the church.

Indio Police say they found the original tabernacle in the apartment of 30-year-old Enrique Labastida of Indio, who admitted to burglarizing the church.

The holy box was cut up in sections, unable to be used again.

"It was dismantled and the base of the tabernacle was being used as a TV stand," Twiss said.

Donations poured in over the last four months, making it possible for the church to buy a new tabernacle.

Thursday night the parish came together in a special mass to bless the new addition and celebrate coming together in a time of loss.

"It was a combined effort of the people of the parish, and other parishes too lent a hand to make this dream happen," said Father Gamino.

"I think we're all happy that it's back and that we're going to have this blessing to it," Flores said.

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