The home of Deacon John Gerke and his wife, Colleen, was broken into by a pair of armed robbers in the early the morning Oct. 13. The Gerkes were unharmed, and the suspects are in police custody.
Deacon Gerke is assigned to ministry at Holy Family church in Price Hill. Colleen Gerke is the Director of the Family and Respect Life Office for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.
According to a report posted online by the St. Bernard Police Department, the suspects were chased from the home by the residents. They fled the area with a host of stolen items, including two pyx used for bringing the Eucharist to the sick and homebound, but were located a short time later. The suspects resisted and the arresting officers suffered minor injuries from the struggle.
All stolen items with the exception of one pyx have been recovered.
According to police, the break-in suspects included a 15-year-old juvenile armed with a knife, and 18-year-old Elijah Davis, who was armed with a 9 MM handgun. A third suspect was arrested at the scene for misconduct during an emergency.
The police report adds that the juvenile was transported a detention facility and charged with felony burglary, vandalism, resisting arrest, escape and carrying concealed weapons for the knife. Davis was transported to the Hamilton County jail on his first adult arrest and was charged with felony burglary, resisting arrest, assault on a police officer and carrying concealed weapons for the handgun.
Police say the suspects targeted the house randomly.
In the aftermath of the home invasion, Deacon John Gerke and Colleen Gerke distributed a press release detailing the events. The release was also publicized on popular Catholic blog The Deacon’s Bench.
In their statement, the Gerkes ask blessings upon the officers and noted they keep the suspects in their prayers, asking that God give them the grace to seek redemption. The full release is posted below.
Press ReleaseAround 3AM on Sunday evening October 14, two young men, one of them armed with a hand gun, entered our home.While we were sleeping, these young men took a number of our personal items, including two pyxes that we use to bring Holy Eucharist to those who are sick or homebound.By the grace of God, everyone in our home was unharmed.We thank God for that blessing.Shortly after the burglary, the two young men who took these things from our home were confronted by officers of both the St. Bernard and Cincinnati Police departments.After a struggle, these two men were arrested.All of our property was recovered, with the exception of one of these two sacred vessels.We pray for its safe return.We, and our family are deeply grateful to the officers of both the St. Bernard and Cincinnati Police Departments for risking their lives to recover our valuables, but more importantly, to keep our family and the families of many others, safe. We ask that God may bless them in their work and protect them from all harm.We keep the two young men who broke into our home in our prayers.We pray that God may give them the grace to seek redemption and reconciliation with God.And we pray that our society, through the grace of God, the restoration of the family, and the work of people of good will, may be transformed.Through Christ,Peace and All GoodDeacon John and Colleen GerkeJohn Gerke is a Catholic deacon, assigned to ministry at Holy Family Church in East Price Hill under the leadership of Father Len Wenke.Colleen Gerke is the Director of the Family and Respect Life office for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.John and Colleen, parents of five children live in the Village of St. Bernard, and frequently share their home with others who are in need of a safe and a holy place to live.They believe, deeply, that home, is, and is called to be, a place where we encounter God.Colleen and John are both Secular Franciscans, associated with the Province of St. John the Baptist in Cincinnati, Ohio.