The Rev. Jerome Tupa’s prayers have been answered.

Stolen Nativity scene figurines of Mary, Joseph, a donkey, sheep and a shepherd have been returned to the Church of St. Joseph in central Minnesota.

“They all came back,” Tupa said Tuesday in St. Joseph. “I have a feeling it was a prank by some young kids and they realized: ‘Uh-oh, we could really be in some trouble.’ ”

The thieves not only violated one of the Ten Commandments, they did so brazenly.

“The police station is just a half-block away,” Tupa said. “And the College of St. Benedict security guards are always driving past.”

He doesn’t care who took the 3-foot-tall plaster of Paris figurines, valued at $1,000 and holiday mainstays for decades. But, Tupa said, he prayed that this moment might change the life of whoever took the items. The shepherd was snatched on Thanksgiving, and the other pieces vanished late last week from the Catholic church with 1,500 parishioners.

“They brought it back under the cover of night,” Tupa said, “just like their flight into Egypt.”

As for the baby Jesus, he was never in danger. The church doesn’t place him in the manger until Christmas.