MAGNA — Six of eight statues that were smashed by vandals and considered a complete loss by church members were restored and returned to a Magna parish Sunday.
According to police, three teenagers broke into Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church on Aug. 25, smashing the statues along with some pictures and stealing several items, including jewelry, wine and a television. The break-in and vandalism caused about $19,000 worth of damage to the church, Deacon Rick Huffman said. Approximately 450 families attend the church.
In December, police charged one teen with burglary, theft and destruction of property.
“These statues, we thought, were a total loss,” Huffman said.
The statues are of various saints and ladies who the parishioners pray to for help in their faith life, Huffman said. Two of the statues – Sacred Heart and Our Lady of Lourdes – are more than 80 years old and have been around as long as the church. Others are also antiques, he said.
The “senseless vandalism” left the church with five garbage bags full of broken statue pieces.
“The people were devastated that somebody could actually come in and destroy them. There was no purpose for that,” Huffman said.
Since then, community members have assisted the church with donations, including a security system worth about $9,000 donated by Judge Memorial High School, Huffman said. Among those donations was the time of Catherine Holt, a china and art conservator based in Draper. She is restoring the statues and returned six so far to the church.
Holt said seeing images of the statues in pieces on the news inspired her to offer her services to the parish.
“They were in so many pieces, that (the parishioners) really didn’t think it was going to be feasible to put them together,” Holt said. “They expressed their concern that it was impossible to do. But with 30 years’ experience, what I saw was the finished pieces laying on the floor. I could see them done. I knew that if they would just entrust them to me, that I could get them back in one piece.”
For weeks, she pieced together the statues the parish held dear. She said the experience was “wonderful” and “a real privilege.”
“I was in such good company with these statues. I got used to talking to them every day and just feeling so good about working in my studio. I really miss them,” Holt said. “But it was really quite wonderful to present them back to the church. That’s really where they belong and they’re so well loved. It was a really warm, wonderful thing to give them back and know that they’re home again. I was really quite blessed to have them for a short time.”
Holt said this is just an example of how good prevails after bad things occur. As a restorer of broken things, Holt is familiar with the grateful and emotional reaction of clients after she finishes her work. But when she returned the statues, she said the congregation was ecstatic.
“It was really quite overwhelming. People from the parish were coming up to me and just shaking my hand and saying ‘thank you’ over and over. I didn’t expect that and I was really taken back by the kind words and heartfelt gratitude to have these pieces back. The church presented me with a beautiful crucifix, which I’ll treasure forever.
“They were so happy. They were just so moved to have them back.”