December 8, 2019

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'Leave it in the lobby in a box': church leaders ask for return of statue's head

The Leo Mol statue of St. Volodymyr was vandalized sometime between Monday night and Tuesday morning. (Ruth Bonneville / Winnipeg Free Press)</p>

The Leo Mol statue of St. Volodymyr was vandalized sometime between Monday night and Tuesday morning. (Ruth Bonneville / Winnipeg Free Press)

The leaders of a North End church are praying for divine intervention — or at least a change of heart by whomever is responsible for the decapitation of their bronze statue of St. Volodymyr.

"What we're doing is based on hope and faith and prayer: that whoever did the damage will return the head and the cross," parish council chairman Yaroslaw N. Chubenko said.

The Winnipeg parish's executive council met Friday at the Ukrainian Catholic Metropolitan Cathedral of Sts. Vladimir and Olga to decide what to do about the Leo Mol statue that was vandalized sometime between Monday night and Tuesday morning. The statue's head was cut off and taken, as was the cross that sits atop a staff in the saint's right hand.

"If we can somehow see the return of the head and cross, we could likely restore it at a lesser cost than renewing the statue entirely," said Chubenko.

The parish received a financial offer to help restore the statue from Mol's art dealer and friend, David Loch, who owns Loch Gallery. Loch told the Free Press Thursday all of Mol's bronze statue moulds were destroyed after the artist's death in 2009.

For now, the parish council is getting an appraisal of the statue blessed by Pope John Paul II in 1984 and filing an insurance claim, said Chubenko.

"This incident has really created some financial burden to our parish," he said. "We're not sure what the cost will be.

"For now, we'll focus on the return of the head and the cross, and subsequent restoration of the statue. At this point, we haven't really determined how much that will be in terms of a monetary value."

However, the incident has shown church members that people do care, said Chubenko.

"We appreciate the outpouring of community support to our parish," he said. "People are calling and asking, 'Is there a way to donate?'

"I think it's a little too early," he said, adding the parish council will meet again Tuesday to discuss issues such as fundraisers for the statue, an appraisal and insurance. Chubenko said he hopes they will have some more information by then and — hopefully — the statue's head and cross.

Whomever took St. Volodymyr's head can return it without being incriminated, the parish council said, asking for it to be dropped off at St. Josaphat Selo-Villa retirement home (across McGregor Street from the church).

"Leave it in the lobby in a box," said Chubenko.

"We want this incident to come to a positive end," he said. "We want to keep our community feeling secure and our membership feeling positive moving forward."

carol.sanders@freepress.mb.ca

Carol Sanders

Carol Sanders
Reporter

Carol Sanders’ reporting on newcomers to Canada has made international headlines, earned national recognition but most importantly it’s shared the local stories of the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home.

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