Plea for irreplaceable items after Anglican bishop’s car stolen

Picture of the missing staff.
Picture of the missing staff.

An engraved pastoral staff with sentimental and historical value is among the missing items after a Ballarat’s bishop’s car was stolen.

A chaplain drove Anglican Bishop Garry Weatherill to the airport on Friday and then returned to Ballarat, parking the white Ford Territory diesel in a residential street in Ballarat East. 

On Saturday morning the only sign of the car was the smashed glass on the road.

Anglican Diocese of Ballarat Registrar Peter Jarvis said police had been notified and were investigating.

“Obviously the perpetrators broke the window and managed to get the car started,” Mr Jarvis said.

“A lot of the stuff inside was the bishop’s clerical attire, his robes and what he wears on special occasions.

“But one of the most significant things was the pastoral staff – the bishop’s crook – which is of very limited use but quite irreplaceable to us as an important and priceless historical artifact.”

The staff had been crafted for Right Reverend W. H. Johnson to mark his election to the See of Ballarat in 1936. 

His daughters Mary Steele and Elizabeth Wood had presented the staff to the diocese a couple of years ago.

Made from hardwood and hand-hammered silver, the staff comes apart in four pieces and fits inside a leather case with Bishop of Ballarat marked in gold leaf.

“Bishop Johnson’s daughters would be quite perturbed to find it has been stolen because it was given to the diocese for the current bishop and future bishops to use in remembrance of their father,” Mr Jarvis said.

Another treasured item in the car was a stamp collection, which had been given to the bishop to help raise funds for the Anglican Community of The Holy Name.

“One of the sisters passed on these stamps when she passed away to help fund Third World aid projects and education,” Mr Jarvis said.

“They are certainly a person’s treasure of their lifetime and great hobby, and they wanted them to go to a particular cause.”

Mr Jarvis said anyone with information should contact the police or the diocese. 

“If someone does have possession of these significant personal items, we just ask if they could return them, no questions asked… because they may have no value to anyone else but they do to us,” he said.

Anyone with information can contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or Ballarat Police on 5336 6000.