Baby Jesus to return with surveillance system

SOUTH PHILADELPHIA - December 29, 2009

The theft is believed to have happened on Christmas morning.

"Whether it be a prank or someone stealing it, we don't know what happened, that's neither here nor there, It's the outpouring of generosity is what always strikes me," said Father Bill Dean, the Assistant Pastor.

Indeed, parishioners are thankful that, despite the economic turmoil, a number of people have come forward offering to replace the statue, valued between $700 and $800. Among those who offered was philanthropist Kal Rudman, who was already paying to provide 24-hour security for Philadelphia's official nativity in Center City, after someone stole that baby Jesus from the manger.

Ultimately, it is parishioner Brian Donnelly, of Donnelly Funeral Home, who will be replacing the statue on Wednesday.

"In this day and age, when so many parishes are having so many issues, I think it's important that our people are pulling together to make this a vibrant part of our community," Donnelly said.

In addition to offers from people wanting to replace the baby Jesus statue, the Electrical Workers Union, Local 98 has offered to install a 24 hour surveillance recording system to keep an eye on the Nativity, free of charge.

"The overwhelming turnout of goodwill has definitely changed our attitude tonight," said parishioner Tom Betteridge.

"Very grateful that there are people who are willing to help out when there's a parish in need," said parishioner Kate Jerla.

"You see the character of people, and the tremendous charity of people, sometimes we don't take note of that because we focus too much on the tragedy," said Father Dean. "But certaintly the light dispels the darkness."

The electrical workers will begin installing the surveillance system around the rectory on Wednesday morning. They hope to have it in place before the new baby Jesus statue is put in place Wednesday afternoon.

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