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Mary statue back in place on MNE campus

Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Virgin Mary is back in place on the campus of Mercyhurst North East.

A new statue of the Blessed Mother has been installed on the grounds in front of Miller Hall, welcoming students and visitors to the campus.

Coordinator of auxiliary services and music and theater director Patricia Sullivan began the search for a new statue over a year ago, at the urging of Gary Brown, Ph.D., chief operating offer of Mercyhurst North East.

“I started first with churches that were closing, not only in our diocese but all over,” Sullivan said. After running ads in the Erie Catholic Diocese’s Faith magazine and calling churches as far away as Arizona, she eventually located an ideal Mary statue at a Pittsburg-area church.

“I finally got a lead from Joe Kubiak, a property manager in the Pittsburgh Diocese, and Father Michael John Lynam,” who was pastor of the church, she said. The church, Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, closed in June 2014.

The approximately 8-foot-tall statue had been perched on an outcropping high on a wall at Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the Pittsburgh Diocese offered Sullivan a deal: if Mercyhurst would be responsible for the removal and transportation of the statue, they could have it free of charge.

Jeff Taylor, head of maintenance at Mercyhurst North East, was up to the challenge and transported the statue to its new home on the North East campus, where it was installed at the end of July.

To have a statue of the Blessed Mother on campus once again is a big deal for the college, Sullivan said.

“Mercyhurst North East was originally a Redemptorist seminary, and the Redemptorists had great affection for our Blessed Mother. Carrying on that tradition, we too have great respect and reverence for the Blessed Mother,” Sullivan said. “So it means everything to us that we have her here with us now.”

The harsh North East winters haven’t been kind to a number of the statues on Mercyhurst North East’s campus, and next up for replacement could be a statue of St. Alphonsus Liguori, founder of the Redemptorist congregation and namesake of the campus’ Liguori Fieldhouse.

“We do have a statue of him now, but it has not weathered well after all these years and we are looking to replace it,” Sullivan said, adding that because St. Alphonsus isn’t as well-known, finding a statue could take a while.

For now, though, it’s a relief to have the Virgin Mary back in place.

“All of us are so happy now that she has found a new home on our campus,” she said.