Do Not Leave your Valuables Unattended Warning

I always ride my bicycle for any service I do at the church or whenever I go to church by myself, for that matter. I serve as commentator and lector for Sunday masses.

I serve as commentator in wedding masses, funeral masses and baptisms. Whenever I go to church riding my bicycle, I always lock it when I park it.

It's a force of habit that's why I do. You can never tell when you lose something important. And I consider the bike necessary for my service. The church welcomes all kinds of folks and so it's better to be safe than sorry.

Shady Characters at the Church Doors

When I was new as a commentator for baptismal rites many months ago, there was something I noticed that's a bit off. There were always a few folks standing by the church's side doors during the sacrament. I knew what to expect as far as attire was concerned among those attending the sacrament of baptism. Certainly, these folks weren't part of the attendees, whether parents, godparents or their families.

By the way they dressed, I initially thought they were sampaguita garland vendors. But everyone knows the sampaguita garland vendors sell their wares outside the church - at the church gate or parking lot. So, seeing them at the side doors just standing and glancing at the attendees was strange.

From the start of the baptism service until the end, they were just standing by the doors or simply loitering outside. They were probably two or three women with a teenage kid. If they were with a man, the guy would just be outside. They did nothing else, but they weren't asked to leave either by the mother-butlers. And with that, I thought it was just okay with the mother-butlers that they were there.

Advise from a Lector/Commentator

Since I was new at being a baptism commentator, I was trying to learn as much as I can. On the topic of announcements before the sacraments, I sought the advise from a veteran lector and commentator.

One of the announcements he mentioned was about leaving valuables behind on the pews. Although it sounded a bit alarmist, I thought it just made sense.

Here's why I think the baptism is where it may be easy to lose your valuables. There are many opportunities for theft to happen.

  • Instances where attendees leave the pews

    There are a couple of instances where many of the parents and godparents leave the pews. One is during the Pouring of the Water. This is the time when the baptismal party goes to the baptismal font and the priest or deacon baptizes the child with the pouring of the water. Another would the picture-taking sessions. These typically occur right after the sacrament. Some of the attendees might leave their bulky bags behind and nobody's watching over them.

  • Photographers moving around

    It's typical of the relatives to take pictures of the child with the parents and godparents at the pews. When they do so, they would stand, walk and find the best angle for a picture. When they do, they might leave their personal bags or photography bags with accessories behind at their seats.

  • Many of the attendees do not know each other

    There are several baptizees in a baptism. Each of them would have a party of parents, godparents and friends. Typically, baptismal parties would not be acquainted with each other. One party would not know if a stranger suddenly picks up a bag or purse that belongs to another party.

Reminder to Help Prevent Theft

So here is the announcement I make to remind attendees of their valuables. I give this reminder especially when picture-taking sessions are taking place away from the pews.

"Please don't leave your valuables at the pews unless you have someone watching over them."

Coincidence or not, after several months of this constant reminder, I now no longer see the characters I've seen before standing at the church doors.