Baby Jesus was put back in place Saturday night during a Christmas Eve mass at St. Boniface Church.
Last year, the baby Jesus figurine was taken from its manger during the Christmas season. It was missing until Jan. 7 when it was found at the Watershed Nature Center. The figurine was slightly damaged. The Madison County State’s Attorney’s Office charged Matthew J. Fellhauer, 26, with misdemeanor theft and criminal damage to property.
Church leaders asked prosecutors to drop the charges. The only restitution they asked for was for Fellhauer to return to the church this year and take part in the church’s Christmas Eve mass. According to RiverBender.com, Fellhauer made good on that restitution and placed the figurine back in its manger following the mass Saturday evening.
“I think it is a great example of charity and mercy,” St. Boniface priest Jeffrey Goeckner told RiverBender.com. “It’s a nativity scene that has been around for about 100 years. It is also a legend for the people of Edwardsville. People drive by this day after day after day during the Christmas season and acknowledge Christ’s birth. When that was taken away, it saddened the community and saddened us.
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“However, it was found, repaired and painted. Tonight, the young man, Matthew J. Fellhauer, came back and returned it to the manger scene. It was a deal we negotiated with him and the state’s attorney. Instead of pressing charges, we asked for restitution that he would be with us here on Christmas Eve. I handed off the image of him and it is home for the rest of the Christmas season.”
Don O’Brien: 618-239-2626; firstname.lastname@example.org