By Dee Goerge
A new statue at St. Henry Church in Perham is in good company. Our Lady of Hope, a pregnant Virgin Mary, faces a painting of Our Lady of Guadalupe, who was also pregnant, as signified by a black maternity band above her waist.
Father Matthew Kuhn, pastor, tied in lessons of the Marian apparitions of both and blessed the Our Lady of Hope statue after Mass on Gaudete Sunday, Dec. 13.
“It was perfect timing with Advent. And when don’t we need hope?” Father Kuhn asked.
Among those at the blessing were the statue’s donors — the children of Jim and Margaret Huebsch — in honor of their parents.
“Our feeling is that it’s a statue with a purpose. It’s an image you don’t see of Mary very often. She looks like a young girl,” said son Joe Huebsch.
Her youth and obvious pregnancy make people think and may help young couples facing a difficult situation to be comforted and seek guidance, he noted. In the future, there will be free pro-life literature available, also funded by the Huebsch family.
Their pro-life focus is inspired by their parents, who had nine children and were married 70 and a half years before Jim died in 2018 at 97. Margaret also died at 97, a year and a half ago. The couple sent all their children to St. Henry’s Catholic School and were strong pro-life supporters.
“Jim and Margaret were pillars of the parish, very generous with their time and the parish,” Father Kuhn said.
That generosity continued with the Huebsch siblings, who decided to use memorial money to donate something special to the church. Duane Huebsch remembered seeing a statue of a pregnant Mary, so they did some research.
Another name for the statue is Our Lady of Pontmain, Father Kuhn explained, based on an apparition of Mary on Jan. 17, 1871, to children in Pontmain, France, during the Franco-Prussian War. The village was in the path of the Prussian army, which halted at the time of the apparition.
The Huebsch family selected and purchased a 48-inch resin modern version of Our Lady of Hope with the help of St. Cloud Book Shop staff.
“I think this image relates to our Mother with her great devotion to the birth of Christ. She perpetually looked youthful, so it’s very appropriate,” Father Kuhn said of the statue.
In addition to the statue, the Huebsches provided a custom-built pedestal that includes century-old wood. Jim Huebsch started Huebsch Woodcraft in 1947, building cabinets and church furniture, which Duane and Joe took over and ran for several years.
“We reclaimed lumber and furniture before it was cool,” Joe said, explaining that when remodeling churches they recognized the workmanship and value of the old furniture they were taking out and salvaged some of the pieces.
Duane used parts of furniture from different churches — that are likely from Europe in the late 1800s — to build the ornate pedestal. Built on casters, it can be moved easily.
Currently it is near the back of church, next to Our Lady of Perpetual Help. It will be a good visual reminder for parishioners who participate in the pro-life adoration event Jan. 23.
The Huebsches are grateful their gift has been given a space at St. Henry’s. The Our Lady of Hope statue will eventually be moved to a new chapel planned to be built between the parish’s new school and the church.
“We believe Mom and Dad would approve,” Joe said.