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Local News

Priest's 'stuff' missing, Stateville service goes on

In this Herald-News file photo, the Rev. Peter Jankowski addresses the Joliet City Council on Feb. 15, while discussing local and federal immigration policies during a special session of the council at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church in Joliet. Jankowski has recently been seeking help in finding religious items that went missing from a Stateville Correctional Center chaplain's office.
In this Herald-News file photo, the Rev. Peter Jankowski addresses the Joliet City Council on Feb. 15, while discussing local and federal immigration policies during a special session of the council at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church in Joliet. Jankowski has recently been seeking help in finding religious items that went missing from a Stateville Correctional Center chaplain's office.

CREST HILL – The Rev. Peter Jankowski will return to Stateville Correction Center for a Holy Thursday service, although what might be called “the case of the missing missalettes” has not been solved.

Jankowski has been seeking help in finding 40 missalettes, an altar crucifix, a metal chalice, priest stoles and several other items that went missing from a Stateville chaplain’s office. Even the plastic bowl and pitcher he uses for a Holy Thursday feet washing service had disappeared.

“I don’t think they took my vestments. I’ll find out on Thursday,” Jankowski said.

Jankowski, the pastor at St. Patrick’s Parish in Joliet, has been doing prison ministry at Stateville since 2011. He last celebrated Mass at the prison at Christmastime. After a vacation, he went to celebrate Mass at Stateville in February and learned that the items used for Mass were missing.

“I walked into Stateville for Mass, and when I walked in I was told none of my stuff was there,” Jankowski said.

He contacted prison officials and legislators seeking help, but to no avail.

A March 22 letter from Warden Randy Pfister expressed “our sincere apology for the mishap. There was no documentation of these items being confiscated or inventory of these items making it very difficult to substantiate what happened.”

The items were kept in the office of a Catholic chaplain who had retired, Jankowski said. The office was not in use when the items disappeared, he said.

Jankowski said he had heard that the items disappeared after a search for contraband at Stateville.

The Illinois Department of Corrections sent an emailed statement about the missing items that said in part, “During a recent search at Stateville Correctional Center, some items were not returned to the original location following the sweep. The majority of these items have been located and returned, and IDOC staff continues to search for the missing items.”

Jankowski said he has spent about $500 replacing the materials and will continue to celebrate Mass at the prison. He also will perform the Holy Thursday feet washing service he has done in past years.

The letter from the warden assures Jankowski that the items kept at Stateville will be “listed on an inventory and secured in a safe place for future use.”

Jankowski noted that there are also two local deacons who provide Holy Communion to prisoners at Stateville, although he is the only Catholic priest who celebrates mass there.

Ministers from other denominations also serve prisoners at Stateville, which, according to IDOC, provides services for a wide variety of religions.

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