MARYSTOWN, N.L. — Father James Fleming, the Associate Priest at Sacred Heart Parish-Marystown and St. Patrick Parish-Burin, is saddened by recent vandalism to a statue of Mary Queen of the World.
“It saddens my heart to see that happen,” he said. “I think what saddens my heart most is that there’s this loss of the sense of the sacred in general.”
Fleming hopes the vandalism was not an intentional desecration of something sacred.
“I hope it was more just kids goofing around, who didn’t realize the gravity of what they were doing,” he said.
Fleming added that he feels the statue is something that has been held sacred by the whole of the community, “especially amongst the Catholics.”
Fleming also said he is was happy to see how community members were willing to help restore the statue.
"The fire department was willing to come and immediately try and help as best they could to clean the statue,” he said.
The statue, which looks out over Marystown, was erected by a local family in 1976 in memory of J.T and Mary (Grant) Fitzpatrick.
The location is frequently visited by members of the community, as well as visitors to town. It is also used by the church for religious ceremonies and events.
“Once a year we go up and we celebrate mass up there on Aug. 15, which is the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary,” he explained.
Fleming noted that during his own visits to the area to pray he often sees people.
“Last year in fact in August I took a group of children from the parish and theirs parent up there,” he said. “We had a picnic up there and prayed the Rosary. It was a wonderful little activity for the kids.”
A caretaker for the area said he is used to having to pick up litter in the area, and repair the fence when damage occurs, but this incident goes well beyond that.