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St. Joseph statue ‘rained’ over the Woods

The rescuers get up close and personal with St. Joseph.

For more than 90 years, St. Joseph has been watching over the sacred grounds of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods from his perch upon the north water tower. On June 8, this 34-inch-tall, gold-plated statue was removed from the tower in preparation for the tower’s demise. Now St. Joseph safely rests in the Facilities Management office where he blesses the work of the water, grounds and buildings crews.

According to a commentary about the statue written by Sister Eugenia Logan (RIP), a harsh drought plagued the area during the spring and summer months of 1913. By the end of July, the water tower was empty. Sisters of Providence spent the nights of July 29-31 in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, seeking divine relief from the heat and drought. On Aug. 5, an hour’s worth of rain came from the skies. About a week later, Aug. 11, the skies opened up, and heavy rains poured down. On Sept. 12, another downpour saturated the earth.

Dee Guthrie (left) and Richard Auten safely return to terra firma.

According to Sister Eugenia, the statue of St. Joseph was placed on top of the water tower in thanksgiving for these replenishing rains. (St. Joseph was the earthly father of Jesus and was married to Mary. He is known as the patron saint of workers. His feast day is celebrated March 19.)

And so for 91 years, St. Joseph has kept watch over the motherhouse grounds. Thus, when it was decided that the water tower was no longer needed due to emergency backup through the Marion Heights water system, a crane was brought in to rescue St. Joseph. Richard Auten of Freitag-Weinhardt Inc. in Terre Haute and Dee Guthrie of J-G Tool & Machine in Marshall, Ill., climbed into the construction carriage and were hoisted to the top of the tower. There they easily removed three of the bolts and cut the fourth one loose. The water tower, which was erected in 1905, was demolished June 15, 2004, by Iseler Demolition Inc. of Romeo, Mich.

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Sisters of Providence

The Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana, are a congregation of Roman Catholic women religious (sisters) who minister throughout the United States and Taiwan. Saint Mother Theodore Guerin founded the Sisters of Providence in 1840. The congregation has a mission of being God's Providence in the world by committing to performing works of love, mercy and justice in service among God's people.

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