Railings stolen from Woonsocket’s oldest Catholic Church

By: Melissa Toupin


The holiest season of the year means nothing to thieves who steal from the oldest Catholic church in Woonsocket during the first week of Lent.

For nearly 150 years parishioners walked up the stairs for mass at St. Charles Borromeo guided by copper handrails, but not any more. While doing chores Saturday morning Father Gerald Finnegan noticed they were missing.

Only screws remain. The spots where the railings were bolted are now weathered by time. The 3 stolen rails were original fixtures to the church. St. Charles was built in 1868 by Irish Immigrants.

“They probably must have been either very desperate, or just not really keen enough to understand what it's all about,” said Finnegan.

Parishioners assume the railings will be chopped into pieces and sold for scrap.

“I hope they catch the culprits who did this. It wasn't right to do this,” said life long parishioner Robert Egan of Woonsocket.

Father Finnegan says the church will replace the stolen rails, but with something less expensive and less desirable.

He says detaching the railings must have taken some time and questions wether the thieves had practice.

The church does have an alarm system inside, but can't afford security cameras outside.

This is the second time in five months a building has been targeted for its copper. In September railings at the Cranston library were also stolen.