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Priest’s Wheelchair Stolen On Christmas Motorized Chair Taken From Downtown Seattle Chapel

Wed., Dec. 27, 1995

A day of thanks turned to one of forgiveness for an Episcopal priest whose motorized wheelchair was stolen from outside her downtown chapel on Christmas morning.

The Rev. Susan O’Shea has used the wheelchair for the past three years because of an auto-immune disease that is weakening her leg muscles. The chair was taken from her chapel at the Pike Place Market as she slept on the floor with worshippers inside the building.

O’Shea, who has been chaplain at the Chapel of St. Martha and St. Mary for the past five years, didn’t let the theft stop her from performing her ministerial duties on Christmas.

She said she could understand why someone might want to take the chair.

“It is not unusual for failed expectations of the holidays to leave some kinds of people very angry,” she said.

“People who feel they have been dehumanized will often figure out the least human thing they can do, and then do it.”

O’Shea said the chapel had stayed open all night after midnight Mass Christmas Eve because many of the 22 worshippers there would have been unable to get back inside the homeless shelters where they live. She left the wheelchair outside.

It was reported missing at about 8 a.m., when her husband, Jerry, went to reconnect its battery.

O’Shea, who is in her early 50s, said the loss of the wheelchair could limit her work. “I use it to work the streets and the migrant camps and whatnot.”

Seattle police are investigating the theft but have no suspects.

Whether or not the chair is returned, O’Shea said, nothing could take away from the holiday.

Anyone with information can contact O’Shea at (206) 343-0593.


 

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