I have a small statue of Our Lady of Prompt Succor. Years ago, when I was planning a conference in New Orleans, the statue was given to me as a reminder that she is the principal patroness of the state of Louisiana, the Archdiocese of New Orleans, and the city of New Orleans.
Today I received the sad news that one of the landmark statues of Our Lady of Prompt Succor has been destroyed in Louisiana. A 35-year-old vandal with a sledgehammer broke into two Catholic churches in Sulphur, Louisiana, on the night of December 14 and destroyed the churches’ statues. According to news reports of the incident, the suspect demolished about twelve statues at Our Lady of Prompt Succor Catholic Church, and as many at Our Lady of LaSalette Catholic Church. The suspect claimed that “God had ordered him” to destroy the religious images.
The same man has been accused of breaking through the glass doors of Henning Memorial United Methodist Church and Sulphur Baptist Church, although he did not gain access to the churches’ worship space.
The two Catholic parishes were insured, but the sentimental and historical loss is great: Many of the broken statues at Our Lady of Prompt Succor were over 100 years old. The crucifix which was destroyed at Our Lady of LaSallete was 80 years old.
The Diocese of Lake Charles, where the vandalism occurred, has posted a message from Bishop Glen J. Provost, as well as photo galleries showing the destruction at the two churches. Bishop Provost will visit both churches this week, to celebrate Mass and to offer prayers of reparation for these acts violating the memory of the Blessed Virgin and the saints and destroying images of religious, historic, and sentimental significance to the Catholic faithful. Bishop Provost has said that he will pray for the two parishes, but also for the young man who did the damage.
Mass at Our Lady of Prompt Succor will be at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, December 20. At Our Lady of LaSalette, Mass is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Friday, December 21.