Religious items were stolen from Bishop Armando Ochoa of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno while he was on his way to a Los Banos church.
The back window of Ochoa’s vehicle was smashed while he was eating lunch at M&M’s Italian Restaurant in Los Banos around 11:30 a.m. Sunday and objects used to celebrate confirmations – including a crosier, oil stock and ritual book – were stolen.
Ochoa said his crosier – a wooden hooked staff – was given to him when he was installed as bishop of the Diocese of Fresno five years ago, and the oil stock was given to him when he was ordained as a bishop 30 years ago.
“The monetary value is not the issue, it’s the symbolism of the items and the sentimental value to [the] bishop personally,” said Teresa Dominguez, chancellor of the Diocese of Fresno.
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Dominguez said the crosier symbolizes Ochoa’s leadership as a pastor and that the stolen oils are considered sacred.
“It’s not just a threat, but it’s an offense against the church as well,” Dominguez said.
Church leaders say the items can be returned with “no questions asked” to St. Joseph’s Church, 1621 Center Ave., Los Banos.