The priest at St. Andrew's Church, in Drexel Hill, had to give an unusual message to his congregants during Mass yesterday morning, according to police.
"The priest - from the pulpit - says: 'We've just been robbed, if you wrote a check, please cancel it,' " said Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood.
After the church collection plates were passed around at Mass yesterday morning, a 17-year-old usher was walking the bag of donations from the church to the nearby rectory, just steps away, when he was approached by a man in a ski mask and glasses who demanded he hand over the sack.
Although a weapon was not brandished, the teen was scared to death and handed over the money, Chitwood said. The teen, a "clean-cut kid, who looks like a priest himself," is not a suspect, he said.
After stealing the church donations, the thief ran about a half block to a trolley stop at Huey and Mason avenues, where he dumped his ski mask and glasses into a trash can before taking off on foot, police said.
Investigators were able to retrieve those items and Chitwood is confident that they will get "a ton of DNA" from them.
A church parishioner also believes that she saw the offender observing part of the Mass in the pews, acting very nervous and suspicious before he got up during the gospel and left the service, Chitwood said.
"Obviously, he cased the joint out so he knew the drill," he said. "This guy is a parasite on society. To go to a house of God to steal, that's as low as you can go."
Police released a basic description of the suspect: He is a white man in his 20s, between 5-feet-6 and 5-feet-7, with a slight build. At the time of the robbery he was wearing a gray hoodie, baggy pants and white sneakers.