Last week, I announced that the abandoned statue of the Blessed Mother, which was repaired and then blessed by Bishop David Ricken on Dec. 2, would be given away to a good home on the feast of the Immaculate Conception. I asked interested readers to submit a letter by email and describe why he or she would like to claim Mother Mary.
Since Dec. 2, I received five requests from readers, all with heartfelt letters hoping to welcome the statue into their home. After sharing the letters with my editorial colleagues at The Compass, we have decided to present the statue to Nate Wessel. However, the process of choosing a recipient (I avoid using the term “winner”), was difficult due to the other fine letters submitted. All deserved some sort of recognition.
Thanks to the generosity of Fr. Edward Looney, pastor of St. Francis and St. Mary Parish in Brussels and author of numerous books on the Blessed Mother, the four other writers will receive signed copies of one of Fr. Looney’s books.
Nate’s letter, edited for style and brevity, follows:
It would be an honor to welcome this beautiful statue of Mary into my home since it’ll remind me daily of the goodness and the heavenly help the Blessed Mother provides when we need it most, reminding me of the times she’s helped my family and me in the past.
In November 2018, my dad went missing for 24 hours and tried to commit suicide after he was let go from his job and lost his dad in 2017.
Through all of this, our Mother was helping and guiding my family and me during these difficult times. This was especially true as my youth minister, my parish priest, family, friends and I walked through the woods close to where I live.
As we were walking through the woods, coming close to the end of our search portion, a small brick grotto appeared among farm equipment in the back of a field. Within that brick grotto stood a statue of Mary, similar to one you’re gifting. As I looked upon this miraculous sight I prayed a Hail Mary and few other prayers to the Blessed Mother that all would end well with this dire situation.
Shortly after this, we returned to the fire station and one of my uncles announced that my dad had returned home. My dad said that he had heard the voice of someone saying what he was doing was wrong. He heard the song, “Jesus Loves Me,” being sung to him. These things reminded him of how much God/Jesus and our family loves him and this prompted my dad to return home.
Looking back on this occurrence, I can’t help but shed tears of gratitude and love for our Blessed Mother. Her grace, protection, guidance and love had helped my dad to return home. I don’t know if it was the Blessed Mother who spoke and sang to my father or if my dad’s guardian angel, or Jesus, or some other heavenly figure spoke to my dad, but I’m positive that Mary definitely influenced what transpired.
I see this not as the only blessing in my life, there are many of those who God has given me. I was also blessed to be born on the feast of the Immaculate Conception! So in a way, my relationship with the Blessed Virgin is extra special and has always been throughout this life.
This specialness is enhanced with the great opportunity to visit our Blessed Mother at her Shrine of Good Help, which my family and I visit often. Our Mother definitely lives up to this title as she’s helped me through some of the most difficult times in this life.
Excerpts of letters from other writers are as follows:
Lisa Van Dyke wrote to describe a special prayer she recites that includes a Litany of the Blessed Mother, whom she refers to as the “Mystical Rose.”
While praying one day, I was given flashbacks to all the roses in my lifetime. I remembered a painting of roses that I had painted in high school. My Nana, my mom’s mother, asked me if she could have this painting when she saw it amongst my artwork. Nana framed my painting of roses and placed it at the top of her stairs in her home so every time she went upstairs to go to her bedroom, she saw my painting of the roses.
Nana is the first person I knew who prayed the rosary. Nana also had a statue of Mary in her backyard. While praying this novena, I was given the gift of realizing that when Nana saw my painting of the roses, she connected it to our Heavenly Mother, our Mystical Rose.
When I was praying the novena, I had the thought that it would be nice to have a statue of our Heavenly Mother in our backyard where we have roses growing.
This morning I was thinking about the article in The Compass and I went back to reread the article. That is when I noticed the statue had been found in a Piggly Wiggly parking lot! My mom passed away 12 years ago and she collected pigs. Every time I see a pig I think of my mom and smile! When I noticed this connection, I felt like it was a Godwink! A Holy Spirit prompting to write and inquire about possibly being gifted with this blessed statue of our Heavenly Mother.
Katie Zurawski said she was hesitant to write and inquire about the statue, feeling there were others more deserving of it.
But I felt in my heart that my family would greatly benefit from her, so here I am sharing our story. Like many families in our diocese, we have struggled with our faith since COVID-19 has started.
It started with online Mass. We would promise to put it on the TV and then find ourselves watching something else. Then we tried to transition back to in-person Mass and many times we failed there, too. It has left us spiritually bankrupt. It has been a hard transition and one we don’t take lightly.
Through all these failures, though, we remain committed to not only remaining faithful but growing in our relationship with God. Every time we say prayers before a meal. Every time we attend Mass. Every time we pray the rosary. Every time we complete our religious education homework. Every time we take a step forward. I can almost hear us saying “Yes” to Jesus. And I know we will keep fighting for our faith.
We just moved to a new home. As we are settling and decorating for Christmas, I find myself taking out our Advent wreath and setting up our Nativity set. Each of these is a reminder of the commitment our family is making to our Catholic faith. The statue of Mary would be a wonderful constant reminder to never give up and to ask Mary for help when we feel like we are failing.
Thanks for your consideration and have a wonderful advent season,
Oliver Omega is a seminarian from Canada, studying at Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology in Hales Corner. He writes:
I came across the article regarding the abandoned statue of Our Lady. I used to have a statue of Our Lady of Fatima, but my mother had borrowed the statue for her devotion to pray the rosary. My mother is now 83 years old and since she had moved to be closer to my brother, I believe my hope of recovering my statue is fading.
I would be happy to receive her and give her a new home with me. I am from Canada, however, and am here for studies in the seminary. I will keep her with me in the seminary and will take her back with me to Canada when I go home.
Matt shares his story about leaving the Catholic faith and returning.
“I truly believe (the Blessed Mother) went out of her way to re-adopt and claim me back to Catholicism this past August. I wasn’t practicing for seven-plus years, but after having my first daughter I realized the need to reacquaint myself with Jesus if my wife and I were to raise her to know the Lord.
During this time, I dove back into the Bible and we joined a Protestant church. I remember thinking Mary was unimportant during this time, and it was even blasphemous to pray for her intercession, as many of the Protestant pastors would tell me during their sermons/podcasts. At the tail end of doing this for two years and having a second daughter, I stumbled upon a few Catholic podcasts and Relevant Radio and decided to give Catholicism another try.
In making the leap back to Catholicism in August, I asked God that if this was the true way, he was going to have to show me. On Aug. 20, 2021, I went to the chapel in Champion and bought some rosaries and the scapular, telling God that I was sincere and I would give Catholicism, including his mother, a serious second chance. That same day I prayed the rosary three times while cutting the lawn. During the third rosary, I almost ran over a snake. Because we have dogs, I decided to grab a shovel to keep it away from our pets.
But the moment I killed it, I froze. The whole chain of events of the day seemed way too providential. The first day I committed back to Mary and Catholicism by visiting the chapel, praying the rosary and wearing the scapular, I actually physically crushed the head of a real life snake. In that moment, the image of Mary crushing the snake came to my mind. I took that as her telling me I was finally in the right place, back home with the true church.
I’ve prayed the rosary every day since Aug. 20, have continued to wear my scapular and I truly believe that through Mary’s intercession, I have been able to overcome an addiction. Mary brought me back to her son, Jesus, and ushered me back to his bride, the Catholic Church. She’s played a pivotal role in my life very recently and having this statue will help me be reminded of this story and to share her love with others.
When Susan Hansen of De Pere contacted me about the abandoned statue in early November, I never imagined the story would lead to heartfelt testimonies of how the Blessed Mother has brought these families closer to her and to God. On this feast of the Immaculate Conception, we ask our Blessed Mother to pray for us and to lead us closer to her son Jesus.
About Sam Lucero
Lucero is news and information director for The Compass and a 30-year veteran of the Catholic press. When not at his desk, he enjoys taking photos and posting them online to share with friends. His “Bugs Up Close,” a macrophotography gallery of insects and plants found in his back yard, is a work in progress. To see a sample go to his Inspired Images website. Follow him on Twitter for tweets about church, photography and technology.