Parishioners Rally Together after Decapitation of Virgin Mary Statue
FARGO, N.D. — For the last two years, St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church has had a prayer garden with a statue of the Virgin Mary as its centerpiece.
But Wednesday morning, Father Raymond Courtright noticed something was odd about the statue.
“When I was on my way over to the church as well, I was just walking by, it just caught the corner of my eye that something just wasn’t right. I did a double–take, and sure enough the head was missing,” said Rev. Raymond Courtright of St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church.
A parishioner saw the decapitated head earlier that morning, and brought it inside the church. Word eventually reached the Doyle family who donated the statue two years ago in honor of the late Morris Doyle.
“Oh I was pretty angry. Right away you don’t know what it is, if it’s a hate crime, or if it’s vandalism. I just think it’s disrespectful what happened to it,” said Tim Doyle, the son of the late Morris Doyle.
But Father Courtright isn’t angry. Instead, he and his parish community view what happened to the statue as an opportunity for prayer and forgiveness.
“It’s just nice to see how many people saying ‘oh, that poor guy who did that, you know he must be angry or needs help or whatever, whoever did that, there’s something wrong’, and it’s great that all of these people are praying for him,” said Father Courtright.
Over the past few days, Father Courtright has noticed a substantial amount of support from the parishioner community, ranging from financial donations to people even offering to build a new statue.
Courtright says that one gesture that had an impact on him was when a woman who attends the church saw the headless statue for the first time.
“Right away, she was just in tears, and she says, ‘Oh, Father’; she called her Vietnamese friends in the community, and says ‘we’re going to get the money to replace the statue, and we’re going to get an even better one. It’s very moving when people respond like that,” said Father Courtright.
Even when adversity strikes the church, the community still comes together to rise up and stay strong.
If you have any information on the damage done to the statue, you’re encouraged to contact Fargo Police.