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Police officer replaces stolen rosary for victim of purse-snatching

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We tend to lose our faith when bad things happen, noted a parishioner of St. Louis Church in Alexandria. It could’ve happened after the 69-year-old’s purse was stolen from the passenger seat of her car. Instead, God sent Fairfax County Police Officer Matthew Pleva “to help me get through,” she said.

On the evening of Feb. 21, the woman, who wants to remain anonymous in order to give credit to Pleva, was walking from her hair salon when a man pushed her, grabbed her purse from the car and ran. She screamed for help, and a woman from the salon heard her and called the police. Pleva arrived on the scene and calmly reassured her. Though the thief is still on the loose, the purse was found later in a nearby trash can. Sadly, it was missing several things, including her rosary.

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Fairfax County Police Officer Matthew Pleva reads a card thanking him for replacing a rosary that was stolen from a victim’s purse. ZOEY MARAIST | CATHOLIC HERALD 

The rosary originally belonged to her best friend's mother, who was a woman of great prayer. She had prayed the rosary so frequently that she wore Jesus’ body off the small crucifix. After her friend's mother died, she received the rosary. 

As Pleva listened to the woman describe the items missing from her purse, “You could see it was something special,” he said.

It reminded Pleva of his own grandmothers, who would always bring their rosaries to Sunday Mass. “I felt obligated that (the victim) have her rosary for church,” he said. Pleva, a parishioner of Church of the Nativity in Burke, reached out to Father Wilson I. Korpi, parochial vicar, who gave him a pink rosary. That Saturday, Pleva showed up on the woman’s doorstep with a smile on his face.

“I’ve got something for you. You can’t go to Mass tomorrow without a rosary,” he said.  

The woman was touched. “It brought a tear to my eye,” she said. “It was just a moment of real joy.” The next day she brought the rosary to Mass, and she will pray with it —  especially during her Tuesday morning adorations.

The woman wrote a card thanking Pleva, and also sent a letter of praise to his station commander. “Police get a bum deal sometimes and I felt that he was an outstanding officer,” she said. “He’s doing his job in a caring manner.”

Now, the pink rosary serves as a reminder of a stranger’s kindness and the good that God can accomplish through evil. “The first rosary was important because it was my best friend's mother who passed,” she said. “This is special because someone cared enough for me to go find one.”

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017