The statue of St. Michael the Archangel, which was toppled from its perch atop the parish’s day chapel by Hurricane Katrina in August of 2005, was securely reattached to the seashell shaped roof on March 29, despite having been desecrated days earlier by vandals who broke the sword off of the statue.
Several bystanders and a television camera crew stood by to witness the reattachment of the 700-lb statue and, while it may not seem like such a big deal in the grand scheme of things, it’s a huge step milestone for the St. Michael Parish family.
"St. Michael, in the history of spirituality and in the history of the Church, is an archangel. An archangel is a holy messenger. I’m trying to translate that into March 25, 2009," said pastor Father Greg Barras. "Putting St. Michael back on top of the day chapel, I think, speaks profoundly to our faith community as a sign of commitment, a sign of perseverance, a sign of endurance and a sign of restoration, not only for today but for the future."
"Look at the economy now," he continued. "What other types of storms will come – not just Mother Nature – but in living, loving, learning and caring for each other? St. Michael is a messenger of hope and strength and trust and commitment and that’s what the reattachment of the statue means to the St. Michael faith community, that we can get through these lived experiences, centered in God, and find meaning value and purpose."
After discovering that St. Michael, who is commonly portrayed wielding a sword, was no longer wielding one, Father Barras was afraid the event would have to be postponed.
"St. Michael had been sitting out on the front lawn for over three weeks. The sword had already been welded back once after having been broken by Katrina and statue was ready to be placed back atop the roof," Father Greg said.
"At some time during the night of March 23, someone came and broke off the sword. They were very kind though. They left the sword in the grass and we found that piece and, luckily, on Tuesday they were able to weld it back on and were able to follow through with our plan of placing the statue back atop the day chapel.
Father Barras had a word of warning for the culprit or culprits.
"If we catch them, we’re going to cut off their hands. An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth – that’s what the Scriptures teach and we always follow the Scriptures," he said jokingly.
But, on a serious note, Father Barras said the reattachment of the statue was the final step of one phase of renovations to the parish.
The "Fisherman's Church," as St. Michael Church is best known, has served the people of Biloxi's Point since it was established as a mission in 1907.
Printed with permission from the Gulf Pine Catholic Newspaper of the Diocese of Biloxi, Mississippi.