Burglar breaks into the wrong rectory

From the Daily Telegraph:

Burglar overpowered by three Catholic priests

The burglar was no match for the three – all in their 60s – and led by a former rugby playing clergyman who launched a flying tackle to bring the intruder to the floor.

Two of the priests, Father Jimmy Shiel, 67, and Father Kieran Magovern, 66, had both undergone triple heart bypass operations in the past.

But along with Indian born Father Chacko Panathara, 61, they didn’t think twice about tackling the burglar who was in his 20s.

Not only that, but just hours later the three parish priests were going about their church duties with early morning mass, baptisms and meetings with parents of children preparing for their first communions.

“He was no match for the three of us,” said Father Magovern. He added “The chap was trying to break free and escape but with the three of us on top of him he was going no where”.

It was around 2am in the early hours of Sunday morning when the burglar climbed up a drain pipe to a first floor window at the presbytery in the grounds of St Mary’s Church in West Street, Dunstable, Beds.

He’d spotted a window open and after gaining access to St Mary’s Parish House began creeping along the upstairs corridor.

Father Magovern said “He entered Jimmy’s bedroom and Jimmy woke to see this guy in his room. The burglar ran and Jimmy jumped out of bed and ran after him. As he did he hammered on Father Panathara door.

“Jimmy has played a lot of rugby when he was younger and it was in the corridor that he floored him. It was a rugby tackle and the chap was taken to the floor.”

As the burglar struggled to break free Father Shiel got him in a vice like grip and held on as best he could to stop him escaping.

By now Father Panathara had arrived on the scene to help the other priest.

Seconds later Father Magovern joined in to prevent him making off.


Read the rest there.

He is lucky he didn’t break into my place.  Very very lucky.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. JohnE says:

    Good thing he didn’t break into a convent either. I hear they’re pretty good with the “nun”-chucks.

  2. Phil_NL says:

    I can think of some other clergy who burglars would rather pass over: http://www.catholicvote.org/discuss/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/bishop-with-gun.jpg

  3. Is it appropriate to use a liturgical Beretta in a non-liturgical environment? [I have used one at the shooting range for target practice. Where’s Vincenzo when you need him?]

  4. Jack Hughes says:

    @Fr Sticha

    I’m sure that I would be very scared if confranted with three Priests wearing birettas and armed with their Breviary :)

  5. ghp95134 says:

    Fr. Magovern is quoted: “…The church came out on top.

    That is the best laugh I’ve had for a week!


  6. JohnMa says:

    I can picture it now:

    Bad guy: “Oh crap!”
    Fr. Z: “Ego facultate mihi ab Apostolica Sede tributa…”

  7. irishgirl says:

    Way to go, Fathers from England!
    Yeah, Father Z-where is Vincenzo? I’d like to see him create an image of you with your ‘liturgical Beretta’!

  8. jarhead462 says:

    What if they were hiding Berettas under their Birettas?
    Now THAT would be cool!

    Semper Fi!

  9. DisturbedMary says:

    One had his “knee on the chap’s back”. Poor chap. Eh, eh, eh.

  10. Tony Layne says:

    Must be one of those differences of English and American spelling … I notice the report put the burglar in “a vice like grip”. Or perhaps a theological pun?

  11. Martial Artist says:

    Father Z.,

    I do appreciate your dilemma. As you are a Catholic priest I readily imagine that you would have a preference for the Beretta. However, as a man of German ancestry, I would think you might also be attracted to the Sig-Sauer (perhaps the P226 in .40S&W). A difficult choice indeed. As a man of German ancestry myself, I definitely lean toward the Sig, particularly considering the nearly liquid smoothness of its DA/SA trigger mechanism.

    Pax et bonum and my continuing prayers for your ministry,
    Keith Töpfer

  12. AnAmericanMother says:

    Martial Artist,
    Concur on the Sigs – beautifully crafted works of art.
    I have a strong preference for the .45 ACP caliber, but as the Sig P220 is a bit large for CC I have the P245 compact model. For summer carry the P238 SAS can’t be beat – even though it violates my rule of only carrying a caliber that starts with “4”. But even .380 in the pocket is better than .45 at home on the dresser.
    I carried a Colt Government Model for years, but the DA offers a little added security.

  13. Stu says:

    Walt Kowalskis of the World Unite! (Even Father “Kowalskis”)

  14. Maltese says:

    Good for these prelates!
    At college, my boxing coach was a priest, was in his 60’s, was a manly, good priest, and kicked our asses! Man, that Priest could hit! This was at the University of Michigan in the mid 90’s.

    This priest had had two heart-attacks, and yet fought us fairly, with great respect to the sport of boxing. He’s part of the reason I became Catholic (from atheism)….

  15. Tom in NY says:

    Dixit Dominus Domino meo: “ Sede a dextris meis,
    donec ponam inimicos tuos scabellum pedum tuorum ”.
    Virgam potentiae tuae emittet Dominus ex Sion:
    dominare in medio inimicorum tuorum.
    Ps. cx, vv. i-ii

    Salutationes omnibus.

  16. JackG says:

    Gives new meaning to the phrase Church Militant.

  17. Denita says:

    All I can say is “Wow.”

  18. John Murray says:

    Goya painted a wonderful series of scenes of a robber getting his just deserts at the hands of a monk. “The Monk Pedro de Zaldivia Shoots the Bandit Maragato” hangs in Chicago.

    Given the odd (by our standards) British legal restrictions on gun ownership, it’s just as well that none of the three padres shot this bandit in the butt. But a painting (or video) would be nice.

  19. irishgirl says:

    I clicked on the link you provided….whoa, that’s some piece that Cardinal Glemp is handling!
    And that could inflict some REAL damage if a burglar gets in its sights!

  20. Supertradmum says:

    A great friend of mine used to carry a jeweled derringer in her boot somehow when she travelled. She doesn’t do it now, but her husband insisted on it. We were having tea many years ago in an English National Trust garden and she showed it to me. She was very petite. I just carry rosaries.

    Thank God for Manly Priests…..We need more suchlike.

  21. AnAmericanMother says:

    Those little derringers used to be called “virtue pistols” – as in, last resort to defend ones virtue. Ladies out West generally tucked them into the top of their corsets but sometimes in a boot.
    They are usually .22 LR or, even worse, .25 auto. Barring a lucky hit, they are useful mostly for frightening an assailant. [You don’t need much luck if the barrel is stuck into the assailants eye socket.]
    I see that the Lady Derringer is available in .38 sp and .32 Mag — that would leave a mark, but would be somewhat interesting to hang onto. Since there is a second barrel, you would like to be able to get that second shot off.
    Recoil is a function not only of the caliber but also the weight of the firearm — the lighter the firearm, the worse the recoil. There are exceptions to that rule — my itty bitty Sig .380 weighs just over half the weight of my Walther in the same caliber, but has almost no felt recoil compared to the Walther which kicks like a Missouri mule. The engineers at Sig are geniuses!

  22. Supertradmum says:


    Wow, you are an expert in firearms, as in so many other things. Thanks for the interesting input. Somehow the incongruousness of the virtue pistol in the English garden amused me.

  23. AnAmericanMother says:

    John Murray,
    Thanks for the reportage on Pedro de Zaldivia! I am in awe of Goya’s work — vigorous, perceptive, sometimes despairing. He painted probably the best portrait of Wellington ever – he got through the outer shell to the man inside. Wellington was not pleased, no wonder.

  24. AnAmericanMother says:

    Thanks! but if you grow up in the countryside, especially in the South, you can’t help but know about firearms. The comment attributed to Adm. Yamamoto about ‘a rifle behind every blade of grass’ is still true here. Daddy had us little ones out shooting tomato cans off fenceposts with a .22 rifle not so long after we learned to walk. :-D
    And a ‘virtue pistol’ in an English garden IS an amusing thought . . . although you do occasionally encounter gunpowder in the garden in Trollope . . . .

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