Statue Will Honor the Impact and Legacy of Franciscans in Our Parish Community
Before the Second Vatican Council, simplex priests spent a year at St. Francis Solanus, and each priest would celebrate the Mass each day. Fr. Steven Arisman estimates at least 50 Masses were celebrated daily for our faith community.
“How amazing is that!” Fr. Arisman says. “There were multiple altars, and every day there were Masses throughout the entire day. That is what our parish has grown up on. The Franciscans have always been such a significant part of this community.”
Because of COVID-19, Fr. Arisman has felt that our faith community never had the opportunity to truly thank and celebrate the Franciscans following the transition last year from the parish being staffed by the Franciscans to the parish being staffed by the diocese.
“The parish has been staffed by the Franciscans for the entire life of the parish,” Fr. Arisman says. “They helped found the parish, the parish grade school and the college. But when they didn’t have the vocations to continue staffing the parish, they relinquished the parish to the diocese to staff.”
While the biggest change is simply how the parish is staffed, Fr. Arisman believes the community is and will continue to be “Franciscan through and through.”
“My mentality is that the Franciscans are always welcome here, for our parish is founded on the Franciscans,” Fr. Arisman says. “The Franciscans have given us so much over the years. They gave us a parish that isn’t in debt, that is well maintained, and that is alive, strong and faithful. I feel like I’ve won the lottery!”
While contemplating how to commemorate the Franciscans, Fr. Arisman received a marketing email displaying a stunning statue of St. Francis as depicted at the foot of the cross embracing our Lord.
“I had been trying to figure out what we can do to commemorate the Franciscans,” Fr. Arisman says. “This statue is so beautiful. It’s substantial, and we need to do something substantial to commemorate the work of the Franciscans for the past 160 years.”
This hand-carved wooden statue, however, was expensive. St. Francis and Christ are approximately five feet tall, and the cross is approximately nine feet tall. It also needed to be shipped from Europe. Without shipping, it cost $24,000. Fr. Arisman asked for the support of the faith community.
“The amount was raised within two weeks, and that shows the love people have for the Franciscans,” Fr. Arisman says. “People were so supportive. We actually went over in our fundraising, which means we can use those additional funds for shipping costs.”
At this time, the plan is for the statue to be placed in the entryway, but the final decision will be made after it arrives.
“The statue will be the first thing people will see when entering the church,” Fr. Arisman says.
The unveiling of the statue will take place on July 14, the Feast Day of St. Francis Solanus in the United States. All community members and Franciscans are welcome.
“Everywhere, we witness the lasting effects of the Franciscans on the community,” Fr. Arisman says. “This dedication and celebration will give us the opportunity to say a true ‘goodbye’ and a heartfelt ‘thank you.’”
If you would like more information about the new statue and celebrating the Franciscans, please reach out to the parish office at 217-222-2898. Also, be sure to refer to the bulletin for further details about the coming unveiling.