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Decades-old statues find new home at Indiana church

August 22, 2018

SOUTH HAVEN, Ind. (AP) — Decades-old statues that dotted the property of the Mantellate Sisters Servants of Mary Villa Santa Maria Convent in Tinley Park, Illinois, recently found a new home.

The Pieta, Sts. Mary and John and Jesus, which may have been at the convent since the 1960s, now are settled onto the grounds of Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church on County Road 700 North.

The church once was the home of the Shrine of Our Lady of Sorrows, where, throughout most of the 1900s, pilgrims from across the country and world came to see statues, shrines and grottoes, worship and pray.

The statues’ journey from Tinley Park to South Haven began a couple of years ago, said the Rev. Paul Quanz, when he learned the convent, which at one time was home to nuns who taught at St. Bridget’s Catholic School in Hobart, would eventually be closing. A nun from Villa Santa Maria asked him if the church was interested in the Pieta, the statue of Mary holding the crucified Jesus. Time passed and the two reconnected in March.

“Well, when we went to see the Pieta, to see what would be involved in the move, there were other statues. We asked what was going to happen to them and were told we could have them if we wanted,” Quanz said.

They said yes.

“So many people remember the shrine. They visit, so it seems appropriate we have some statues to take them back to those days gone by, in their minds,” Quanz said.

The statues are significant, Quanz said, because they are visible reminders of those who have gone before us in their walk in faith.

“The Catholic faith tells us that saints can intercede for us. We have a connection to them. It is difficult for us to know how this happens, but our faith tells us it does.”

Parishioner Dave Lasayko went with Quanz to see the statues and when they returned began to plan the move, which eventually included the Pieta, a Crucifix, statues of Mary, John, Our Lady of Sorrows and a saint who has not yet been identified. They also brought back the Villa Santa Maria sign.

Lasayko said in preparation for the installation of the statues, volunteers poured concrete bases. Some are located along the church’s prayer walk. The Pieta was relocated at the end of the walk. The Crucifix, with statues of Mary and John, were relocated to the center of the properties. Other volunteers cleaned the statues.

The life-sized works were transported from Tinley Park via a pickup truck and trailer, said Lasayko, adding volunteers then used a forklift and straps to lift the statues onto the new bases before being mortared into place.

“They were packed like sardines on the trailer all wrapped up with moving blankets,” Lasayko said.

Despite the efforts to protect the statues, Lasayko said, one of the hands of Mary on the Pieta was damaged. Local sculptor Bill Pozzo did the repairs.

The effort to move the statues was worth it to Lasayko.

“It helps restore some of the ambience that once was the shrine and it gives the community a sanctuary for all faiths,” he said.

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Source: The (Northwest Indiana) Times

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Information from: The Times, http://www.nwitimes.com

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