Now a pile of rubble soon to be buried, the Blessed Virgin Mary statue at All Saints Catholic Church saw generations of Northside Fort Worth residents since the 1950s. Resting on a bed of flowers, Mary was a part of family pictures celebrating communions, quinceañeras and baptisms.
As parishioners came for Sunday mass Jan. 8, the statue was not in its usual spot. Instead, it was shattered in pieces and sprawled across the bed of flowers that it once stood on.
“The community was devastated,” said Ricardo DeLeon, a deacon with All Saints Catholic Church.
This led to DeLeon and Jesús Valadez, another church deacon, on a mission to bring a community-loved statue back to their church. Their six-month search for solutions came to an end June 3 with a new Virgin Mary statue as a replacement, resting on the same flower bed as its predecessor.
“Mary has a very large devotion, especially among Mexican people. This is a big deal,” DeLeon said.
The church is located in the 76164 ZIP code, an area of Fort Worth that is 93.2% Hispanic, according to 2021 Census data.
Significance of Mary
Mary is the mother of Jesus and the New Testament of the Bible says she “was a virgin when she miraculously conceived Jesus through the Holy Spirit,” according to ReligionLink. Catholics refer to her as the Blessed Virgin Mary and Catholic and Orthodox Christians believe that prayers from Mary are especially powerful because of her close relationship to Jesus.
When DeLeon checked the church’s security cameras to see what happened, he saw a man who had been sleeping in front of the church walk over to the Virgin Mary statue and “started rocking it until it fell over,” DeLeon said.
“Then he picked up some bricks that were there and started bashing it,” DeLeon said.
The Fort Worth police came the next day and collected evidence to file a report, DeLeon said. An investigator also came to the church for a follow-up interview.
“But that was the end of it. We never heard anything beyond that,” DeLeon said.
From there, DeLeon and Valadez contacted the diocese to file a report with the diocese who sent a member of the diocese to help them file an insurance claim for the damage. After that, it was up to them to replace the statue however they saw fit. First, they tried to get the statute repaired through a Carrollton company, which couldn’t fix it, DeLeon said.
Throughout all this, Valadez said, he wished he had been there at the time of the vandalism to protect the statue. Fueled by his faith, he said, he kept searching for companies who could make a Virgin Mary statue for them. He then remembered a business that he would drive by often whether it was driving home from the church or on his way to get food.
In March, Valadez decided to visit the business he drove by, often called Classic Stone, a family-owned business in Haltom that makes stone fountains, ponds and statues.
When Valadez got there, he was greeted by one of the saleswomen working that day, Mary James.
James is Christian. But she didn’t consider the coincidence at the time of helping Valadez find a Virgin Mary statue for the church.
When Valadez got to Classic Stone, he said he saw a lot of Virgin Mary statues there but they weren’t as tall as he had hoped.
“I’m a good-hearted person, and I just wanted to help them through it. I know it was disappointing for something like that to happen,” James said.
James helped Valadez pick out a Virgin Mary statue to the church’s liking. It was five feet, six inches tall and cost $1,700. So clergy members of the church asked parishioners for donations to fund the new statue. Once they had enough money to afford it, Valadez ordered the new statue at the end of March.
Though members of the church knew the statue was getting replaced, they didn’t know when. So when the new Virgin Mary arrived on June 3, it took everyone by surprise, Valadez said.
“After that, it was all the commotion,” Valadez said.
Now, everybody is asking the church two things: When is the statue going to be blessed? When is the original Virgin Mary going to be buried?
Since the statue symbolizes the mother of Jesus, Valadez said it felt daunting to bury a statue that resembles such a holy person in the Bible.
“Nobody wants to bury Mary,” Valadez said.
As requested by the diocese, the original Virgin Mary statue will be buried. The church is currently planning on having a burial on the church grounds. A date is yet to be decided, DeLeon said.
As for the blessing, DeLeon said he is planning for it to be on a Sunday, between 9 a.m. English mass and 11 a.m. Spanish mass. A specific date for the blessing is also yet to be determined, DeLeon said.
“We’ll invite the community to come,” DeLeon said. “I’m sure we’ll get a good turnout for it.”
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