How One Thief Was Caught

October 30, 2017

After I had been preaching on Good Friday at St. Patrick's one year, a woman came back to the main altar, her hair disheveled, a haunted look on her face, and cursed me violently.  I said, "Why did you come in here?"  She said, "To steal purses."  I said, "Did you get any?"  "No," she said, "that second word of yours got me--the word to the good thief." Then she said, "Why am I talking to you, you blankety-blank? You'll just tell the cops."  I said, "Why do the cops want you?" She pulled out clippings from the Los Angeles Times and FBI folders. Three of her confreres were in San Quentin, and the FBI was looking for her. I asked her if she had ever been a Catholic, and she said yes, she had, up until the age of fourteen. So I heard her confession, and she became a daily communicant.  But she was unable to work. I supported her for about twenty years until she died. Well, I was harboring a criminal, so after some time I said to her, ''I must make known to the FBI that I know about you." She agreed, and I told the FBI.  I said, "You're looking for this woman."  "Do we want her badly?" they said.  I said, "Oh, yes. Her name is so-and-so. She's a daily communicant at St. Patrick's." They said, "You have done far more for her than we or the prisons could have done, so we're letting her go." So this chance incident of coming in to a church on Good Friday to steal purses made all the difference.