GIBBSBORO – On the afternoon of September 7, as a handful of parishioners prayed for Divine Mercy, Msgr. Louis A. Marucci and two staff members entered Saint Andrew the Apostle Church carrying the statue of Our Lady of Fatima which had been stolen a week prior.
“When we brought the statue into the church, I started to hear people crying,” Msgr. Marucci, parish priest. “It speaks of their faith and their love for Our Lady. It’s not the statue – it’s what it represents, and the intercession and power it has in our lives. It is praying to Jesus through Mary.
The statue, a replica of the image of Our Lady of Fatima at the shrine in Portugal, was reported stolen on September 2. The suspect, caught on parish surveillance video, was arrested on September 7. Robert Adelman, 64, of Woodbury, has been charged with theft.
Msgr. Marucci and the parishioners were delighted that the statue was returned just in time for the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, celebrated on September 8. From 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., parishioners would pray 2,000 Hail Marys in honor of the Blessed Mother’s birthday.
During the morning mass, in the presence of the instrumental police officers of the investigation, Mgr. Marucci rededicated the statue and blessed it with holy water. He and the approximately 70 parishioners present also prayed for the officers, thanking them for their hard work.
“They were diligent, knowing that the party was approaching and how important it was for us to get the statue back,” Bishop said. Marcucci said. He also recalled the phone call he received when the statue was found. “Chief [Brian] Leadley said, “My Lord, we are bringing home the statue of the Blessed Mother.”
Chief Leadley and Det. Anthony Treger of the Gibbsboro Police Department said the security video and help from parishioners was instrumental in the investigation.
“We tried everything in our power to recover the statue, and the community played a huge role in identifying the suspect,” Det. Treger said.
Surveillance cameras were installed inside and outside the church several years ago with a Homeland Security grant to the parish. After the statue disappeared, parish staff released video footage of the suspect via email and social media.
Worth around $4,000, this particular image of Fatima is unique in that it is an exact replica of the icon of Our Lady in Fatima, Portugal. One of the bullets that hit Pope John Paul II in the 1981 assassination attempt is encased in the crown of the shrine statue. Deeply devoted to Our Lady of Fatima, Saint John Paul II always credited the Blessed Mother with saving his life. The Gibbsboro statue also includes a replica bullet in the crown.
In his homily during the morning mass of September 8, Mgr. Marucci preached: “We speak of Mary as the dawn of salvation, of Jesus as bringing the fulfillment of God’s salvific plans into the world to establish it, and how he leaves it in our hands to carry it out .”
He continued, “You might ask yourself this question: If God came to bring salvation to the world, then why does evil exist and why do people do such sinful things? The answer to this is that God does not force us to enter into a relationship with him. He invites us to enter into a relationship with him. Very often people will make the decision to turn away from God in the actions they commit. And we experienced that here last week.
“So pray for the person who committed this act, hoping that whatever their motivation, they can get the help and support they need in the future so that such things do not happen again in future. other communities.”