On Friday morning, July 27th, members of St. Mary Church were searching about for the statue of St. Bernadette. The statue which was bolted down in the church's Marian grotto was missing. It had been stolen sometime between the late hours of Thursday and the early morning of that Friday. Apparently, the culprits had unsuccessfully also attempted to remove the statue of Our Lady of Lourdes as well.
It is unthinkable that someone would steal the statue from the grotto. Besides members of the diocese, many from the surrounding communities come regularly to that grotto to pray for the intercession of Blessed Virgin Mary. The motives behind the act are unknown -- it may have been an act of vandalism from ill intent against Christ, or it may be a simple robbery -- but the community has rallied in prayer and support.
That same day, a small group of Christians (some Catholic and some not) who frequent the grotto came to the grotto and after a time for prayer, they each left a Bible on the rock where the kneeling St. Bernadette was. The Bibles were in turn taken by visitors in want of them and other Bibles, flowers, rosaries, and candles left at that spot. Even through an act like this, things work to the good, for the greater glory of God.
Some expressed their prayers that God act in the heart of those responsible to draw them closer to Him; even the unthinkable act of stealing from the Church can be a catalyst to conversion to God, for the culprits as well as for others. Parishioners have expressed the hopes that the statue will be returned, but the parish is moving forwards to see what can be done to replace the one that had been with them for over 15 years.