A bronze statue of St. Francis of Assisi now stands before the church that bears his name.
The 6-foot-tall, 500-pound statue was dedicated Oct. 6 at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church at 172 N. 500 West. The dedication was part of the Provo-Orem parish's celebration of the Feast of St. Francis.It was the last project completed at the church by the Rev. Flavio Trettel, who left St. Francis this past week for a missionary assignment in Bolivia.
The Rev. Trettel said the statue was completed at a cost of $15,000. The Rev. Trettel, of the Order of Friars Minor, said many contributed, including Geneva Steel and a Catholic fraternal group, the Knights of Columbus.
The Rev. Trettel also solicited funds from his hometown in Trent, Italy. Trent is a small town, he said, but during the tourist season the population swells to 40,000. He spoke to a number of groups and received donations for the Italian-made statue.
The Rev. Trettel has served as pastor to the Provo-Orem parish for four years. His replacement, the Rev. Garret Edmunds, was installed Saturday evening after the parish celebrated a feast day in honor of St. Francis. The festivities included blessing the new statue.
St. Francis founded the Franciscan Order of the Catholic Church more than 750 years ago. Two Franciscan priests, Fathers Dominguez and Escalante, were the first white men to enter Utah Valley. They arrived in 1776.
The popularly acclaimed patron of ecology, St. Francis is recognized as a protector of animals. The feast day for his name included a blessing on animals.
The Rev. Trettel will begin work in Bolivia on Oct. 17, his second mission to that country. He served near Cochabamba from 1970 to 1976, and wrote a book based on his experiences. The Rev. Trettel wrote the text and took the photographs for "People of Bolivia," published by Luigi Reverdito Publisher in Trento, Italy.
He dedicated the book to the "campesinos" or the common man of Bolivia and to the missionaries who served with him. He said of Bolivia, "Much has been done, and there is more to do. But it does not seem to be sufficient. The efforts of one person, or a few missionaries, or a few excellent charitable organizations are not enough. This is only a valid demonstration, which illustrates that one can advance further."
The Rev. Trettel defined the term mission, as used by the Roman Catholic Church: "We call it a mission when the people depend on others for religious, spiritual, cultural, and other kinds of support."
When in Bolivia, the Rev. Trettel helped build a bridge. The U.S. organization AID supplied steel and shipped it to Boliva. Germany and Italy also provided financial support. The people did the work. But, said the Rev. Trettel, "Unless a priest is working, nothing gets done."
In the mountains of Bolivia, he also helped build schools. The Rev. Trettel said the missionaries work to give people an education. He will continue with that work when he returns to Bolivia.
There are 80,000 people in the parish where the Rev. Trettel will work. In comparison, the Provo-Orem parish has about 600 households. He said 99 percent of the parish in Bolivia is Catholic, but many still go to the witch doctors first. "They only come to the church when they do not heal."
In his book, the Rev. Trettel said, "Today the church is building bridgeheads everywhere: religious, educative, social - demonstrating that it has overcome the conqueror's egoism and thirst for gold. We are speaking of that poor and loving church that knows how to stand up and defend its children."