Saint Jude’s “Our Lady of Fatima” statue in the Ceres area of Stanislaus County had provided peace and solace for Catholics for at least 10 years.

But sometime Thursday night to Saturday morning, the church’s administrator said the effigy was gone. Church leaders believe someone had stolen the sculpture.

For Catholics in Ceres, the now missing statue is more than just a symbol of their faith — it was a symbol of guidance and support.

“You just vent and ask for strength and ask to help us get through all of this,” Aidee Gomez, a parishioner said. “It’s sad. It’s sad. Why here? Why? You would think at the church that they would respect.”

The administrator said the sculpture drew people in. Gomez said as a hospital worker, Fatima, along with prayer, was where she found the will to keep going.

The value of the statue was not in dollars but in sentiment.

“Everybody here prays. Everybody here pays respects. It’s not the money,” Gomez told us.

The church administrator said they have chosen not to file a police report at this time because they hope whoever took the statue returns it: no questions asked.

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