Guyana Mission thanks London parish for patron's statue

The new church of St Ignatius in Lethem, Guyana
The new church of St Ignatius in Lethem, Guyana

The parishioners of St Ignatius Mission in Guyana have thanked a London parish for helping them secure a statue of their patron, St Ignatius Loyola, which travelled halfway across the world to be installed.

For many years, the Catholics in the small Amerindian village of Lethem, tucked away on the edge of the Amazonian rainforest and savannah, wanted a statue of Ignatius Loyola. The mission is located miles away from any source of statues or other piety items; but as they prepared to open their new church, they increased their efforts to trace, buy and transport a statue to the village. A generous donation from the parishioners of Our Lady of Victories Church in Kensington, London, made it all possible.

After a little research, a manufacturer of high quality, life-size fibre glass statues of St Ignatius was found in India. During a home visit by Indian Jesuit Fr Ronnie, one of the priests currently The statue of St Ignatius in the Lethem Missionworking in Guyana, the statue was purchased and packaged and transported to Mumbai in time for it to be loaded onto Fr Ronnie's return flight. Finally, after a 20 hour flight to Georgetown and a 16 hour drive through the rainforest to Lethem, Ignatius reached his destination - his home in the village that bears his name, given to it by Jesuit missionaries a century ago - St Ignatius.

Deep and heartfelt thanks

The new church took three years to complete. And when it was officially opened and blessed by Bishop Francis on the Feast of St Ignatius Loyola (31 July), the new statue was unveiled. Having been blessed by the Regional Superior of the Jesuits in Guyana, Fr Paul Martin SJ, it was quickly surrounded with flowers from those gathered for the celebration.

On behalf of the parishioners of St Ignatius Church, Rupununi, Guyana, parish priest Fr James Conway SJ has extended a deep and heartfelt thank you to their sisters and brothers of Our Lady of Victories Church in London. "Thank you for the great gift of Ignatius, the statue,” he says. “Today, as we enter the Church, Ignatius welcomes us and directs our attention to the book that is held open in his hand. IHS, written on one side of the book, proclaims the name of Jesus, whilst on the other, Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam reminds us that everything we say and do should be said and done ‘for the Greater Glory of God’. AMDG!”