Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Staff Search

Somebody check eBay -- another piece of pontificalia's gone missing.

This time, it's the crosier shown at left -- a treasured artifact of New Mexico's currently-vacant diocese of Gallup:
A gold-plated crosier — a pastoral staff that symbolizes the governing office of a bishop — was apparently stolen from an unlocked pickup owned by one of [apostolic administrator] Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted’s assistants sometime between Sunday and Wednesday evening, according to Lee Lamb, the communications director for the diocese.

On Thursday, Lamb released information about the theft with the expressed hope that publicity would result in the crosier’s return or recovery. The crosier is about 6 feet in length and is decorated with gold-plating and jewels, which Lamb believes are glass stones. The metal crosier, which resembles a shepherd’s staff with an ornate spiral crook, is very heavy and can be dismantled into several smaller sections for storage in a black carrying case. The crosier was taken in its case.

Lamb said he didn’t know the actual value of the crosier but estimated it would cost the diocese between $3,000 and $5,000 to replace it. However, its greater value may be rooted in it its history.

“Bishop Olmsted’s crosier dates back to 1940 when Pope Pius XII named Fr. Bernard T. Espelage, OFM, the Diocese of Gallup’s first bishop,” Lamb said in an e-mail.

“Current bishops of a diocese typically carry the crosier of their first bishop to symbolize continuity. Beyond the obvious cost of replacing the crosier, it holds significant historical and emotional value to the people of our diocese. It is a highly symbolic piece of our heritage.”

According to Lamb, Deacon Jim Hoy filed a report with the Gallup Police on Thursday morning after discovering the crosier’s carrying case missing from his truck, which had been parked outside his residence in the Roosevelt Elementary School neighborhood. Hoy, the diocesan finance director, is also the private pilot who flies Olmsted each week between his duties at the Phoenix and Gallup diocese. Lamb said Hoy’s flight bag containing about $1,000 worth of emergency equipment was also taken.
PHOTO: Diocese of Gallup