“But something was missing,” Thomasian reflected. When parent and neighbor Maria Jones suggested the school find a statue of its patron, St. Anthony of Padua, the search for the perfect one began.
High-quality religious statues are expensive and often hard to find, but a local pastor, Monsignor Charles Pope from Holy Comforter-St. Cyprian, gifted the school at just the right time.
“I received word from [Msgr. Pope] that he had a wonderful statue that just needed his hand fixed,” Thomasian remembered. “Needless [to say], we found the money to fix the hand and transport St. Anthony to his new home. The children and I planted flowers and our pastor, Fr. Fred, blessed our patron.”
“An army” of support
While the attacks on the St. Anthony statue and rest of the school property have been a big blow on the school, Thomasian says that “there’s been an army” of support and love from the surrounding community.
Raquel Terry, a teacher and a parent of two students, started a Go Fund Me page to help raise funds for repairs and replacements following the vandalism. So far, supporters have donated more than $32,000, exceeding the goal.
Thomasian says that the attacks have helped the school, church, and neighborhood family come together. “We were reminded of our identity and our mission and we re-commit ourselves to the work,” Thomasian said, adding, “our theme is ‘looking back with gratitude, looking forward with joy!’”
Meanwhile, the school has been cleaning up the grounds and getting ready for the start of St. Anthony’s 100th school year, which starts Aug. 29.
“We’re very excited. A lot of schools are closed in the city, but we’re still open. We’re full and we’re thriving,” Thomasian added.