Stolen Baby Jesus Returned

Priest offended by replacement of figurine with stuffed animal

Leigh Valley Health Network
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As winter's first big snow melted, the Rev. Ronald Mass walked outside and made an unsettling discovery at the parish Nativity scene late last month: Baby Jesus had been replaced by a stuffed animal.

"That I found offensive," said Mass, a priest at Incarnation Parish in Palos Heights, a suburb of Chicago.

Upset but not surprised at the antics, Mass sent a message through the church bulletin, asking for the return of the figurine.

No luck.

Then he laid a guilt trip so widespread it couldn't be ignored.

Posted for the untold thousands of passing motorists on 127th Street to consider was a simple message on the church marquee: "Whoever stole our baby Jesus, please bring Him back."

"I guess they did," Mass said.

On Thursday, after several weeks missing in action, the statue was returned, unharmed, on a sidewalk outside the rectory.

"Whoever does this thinks it's a fashionable prank," Mass said, adding a word of caution to future pranksters: The church is trying to secure a GPS tracking system for future nativity scenes.

"I'm delighted to have him back," Mass said of the estimated $165 figurine.  "But I'm not going to be grateful to the guys who stole him for bringing it back."

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