Pastor of Catholic Church, New Jersey, pray Our Lady of Fatima stolen statue is returned before Sept. 8 celebration of Mary’s Nativity

The pastor of St. Andrew the Apostle Catholic Church in Gibbsboro, New Jersey, is hoping that the parish’s stolen Our Lady of Fatima statue will be recovered before the Nativity of Mary on September 8.

The priest, Monsignor Louis Marucci, told Fox29 that the statue was taken by a man in the early hours of Aug. 30.

According to the publication, the statue is one of just four in existence. According to Fox29, the monument has significant emotional importance for the parish community.

Marucci said that “The monetary value can’t even hold a candle to the spiritual and symbolic significance of the image.”

According to the outlet, the church holds a day of prayer in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s nativity. The statue was supposed to be in a central spot for the day of prayer.

“I’m just praying that it gets returned before Thursday, somebody knows where this person lives,” the pastor said.

The person who took the statue may be seen on film accessing the church’s grounds from the woods and peering through a church window, according to the station.

The accused can be seen entering the church while looking about in surveillance footage captured and broadcast by Fox29. The man is spotted entering a church and stealing a statue off an altar.

As he prepares to leave, he can be seen glancing around. On his way out, he struggles a little to get himself and the 3-foot statue out the door, but he ultimately succeeds and leaves. Marucci observes that the suspect left by a different entrance than he arrived, which he interprets as evidence that the individual is acquainted with the structure.

While on video, the man did not look belligerent or physically violent. Physical aggression has often been a component in recent church thefts or vandalism.

Marucci has said that he intends to seek charges, and local police have stated that an investigation is underway.

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