Church’s statue display restored to majesty

Staff photo / Ed Runyan Phil Pillin, maintenance worker at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Basilica in Youngstown, stands near several statues that were recently replaced on the church grounds, after being destroyed by a vandal. The final two statues in the display are expected to be shipped to Youngstown on Monday.

YOUNGSTOWN — Replacement statues from Italy for ones destroyed by a vandal in February were installed about one week ago on the grounds of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Basilica, and four more arrived Wednesday.

The final two statues, both granite, are coming from Asia and are expected to be shipped to Youngstown on Monday, the Rev. Monsignor Michael Cariglio, the church’s pastor, said last week.

“We’re getting close,” he said of replacing or repairing the 16 statues damaged by a man whose late-night actions were caught on surveillance video and shown on local news media outlets.

Caleb Vancampen, 20, the homeless man later identified as the perpetrator, is in a Massillon state mental hospital, where he was sent by Youngstown Municipal Court Judge Renee DiSalvo for treatment in the facility’s restorative program.

If he can be restored to competency to stand trial, he will face charges of felony vandalism for the statue damage. Vancampen also faces charges of misdemeanor assault and theft for other incidents he’s alleged to have committed around the same time.

Cariglio said insurance covered all but $1,250 of the $60,000 to $65,000 cost for the statues.

The destroyed statues were buried, in keeping with their sacredness. All were blessed before they were installed.

Among the scenes of destruction on the surveillance video was Vancampen throwing a cement block at the Pope John Paul II statue near the basilica, knocking it from its base and damaging other parts of it. The replacement statue is one of the works from Italy that was installed earlier.

The Holy Family statue is among the statues that arrived Wednesday. It will be installed soon near the bocce courts.

Cariglio had the damaged and destroyed statues removed from the property shortly after the vandalism so that parishioners coming to church that weekend would not see the desecration.

Phil Pillin, a maintenance worker at the church, said the absence of the statues has made the grounds look “a little empty.” He said the monsignor felt especially bad about the destruction because “he takes great pride in keeping everything neat inside and outside of the basilica.” Pillin added that the statues were paid for mostly through donations from parishioners in the name of a deceased loved one.

The monsignor has had other work done to the grounds this summer, including installation of a retaining wall down the hill from the basilica along East Rayen Avenue.

Pillin said that is evidence of Cariglio’s desire to take the best care possible of the basilica and its property, where he has been pastor since 1986.

“It’s an understatement to say he’s attached to the basilica,” Pillin said. “Most people come here just on Sunday, but he’s here all the time.”

Maintenance supervisor Frankie Vecchiarelli said the destruction of the statues was unfortunate, but the historic Our Lady of Mount Carmel church, which was built in 1913 and is on the National Register of Historic Places, is part of Youngstown.

The church and the city have faced challenges, but they are “still standing strong in Youngstown,” he said.



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