The Traveling Mary’s — 40 years of wandering through California and Texas

Statues of the Virgin Mary crushing a serpent and of The Assumption were returned to Villanova Preparatory School in Ojai after four decades in the care of a former faculty member... PHOTOS BY ANTHONY PLASCENCIA, VENTURA COUNTY STAR

SUPERNATURAL HINT OF THE DAY: Never underestimate the powerful prayers of a devout Catholic mother who “pals around” with the Blessed Virgin Mother of God….

After more than 40 years of wandering through California and Texas, two plaster statues of the Virgin Mary were returned Thursday to Villanova Preparatory School in Ojai during a ceremony for students and invited guests.

The statues were removed from the Catholic school’s chapel more than 40 years ago.

“In the late ’60s, after the Second Vatican Council, many churches and schools went through a renovation,” the Rev. Gregory Heidenblut, school president, told those in the school gym. “Mary lost her home in our chapel.”

How appropriate, crushing the serpent (spirit of renovation), and the Assumption, (a restoration of heavenly realities on earth) A caption might read,"This is MY house baby! 40 years on the road eh? Well, I got your spirit of renovation well under foot..."

Vic LeBreton, who at the time supervised the boarding students, taught classes and produced student plays, said he couldn’t bear to see the statues thrown out.

A priest at the school helped him load the statues into his car. LeBreton brought them to his room on campus for a while and then happened to mention them to his mother, a devout Catholic living in El Paso, Texas.

“And she said, ‘Oh, I want the Blessed Virgin.’ So (the statue) went shotgun with me when I drove to Texas,” LeBreton said.

From the 1970s until his mother died about six years ago at age 96, the larger statue stayed in the living room of LeBreton’s mother’s house as an aid to prayer and worship, he said. LeBreton kept the smaller statue in his office.

“For me, the statue was a reminder of my mother, because she and Mary were kind of like pals,” he said.

A few years after he married and moved off campus, he transferred to a high school in Burbank. While teaching full time and raising a family, he didn’t think much about moving the statues.

After his mother’s death, with his own retirement on the horizon, LeBreton wanted to find a permanent home for the statues. He contacted a Catholic nursing home, which expressed interest in acquiring them, but it didn’t work out.

Then, at a Los Angeles event honoring outstanding students from Catholic schools in Southern California, he happened to run into Carol Hoffer — the headmistress at Villanova and an old friend.

“Vic was all excited,” Hoffer said. “He said to me, ‘I have to talk to you about something that belongs to you.’ ”

When Hoffer heard the story of the traveling Marys, she readily agreed to take back the statues.

The statues will have a prominent place on campus, where students can see them, Heidenblut said.

“Hopefully, as Mary looks upon these kids, some of whom came to the school as little snot-nosed kids and left as mature, educated young adults, she will continue to pray for them,” he said in his speech Thursday.

Jeanne Brown, Villanova’s director of development, said a final decision hasn’t been made, but the statues may end up in a display case in the administrative building, near the president’s office.

“I think it’s perfect,” LeBreton said. “I just feel like I was a caretaker for a while. They were here since probably the early ’40s, so they’ve been around probably 80 years. And now we’re talking about, who knows, maybe another 80 years.”

Read more: http://www.vcstar.com/news/2011/sep/15/Villanova_Statues/#ixzz1YAAUu29K
– vcstar.com

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