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Restored Statue of Jesus Returned to Camp Springs Church

The statue of the Risen Jesus that was once housed in the St. Joseph's Church in Camp Springs, has been restored and returned to its original home.

Dorothy Sauerbeck of Melbourne came into possession of the statue when the church decided to simplify its decorations inside the church in the late 1980s and threw out many statues and other decor. Dorothy's late husband, Joe Sauerbeck, found the Risen Jesus in the dumpster and brought it home where it sat on the family's patio for decades. When the statue was tossed into the dumpster, its hand had broken off, but Joe gathered all of the broken pieces and kept them together with the statue. Parts of the back of the statue had been cracked and broken as well when the piece was discarded.

Fast forward to July of last year when Father William Neuhaus became priest of St. Joseph's and expressed an interest in restoring items that were once part of the church.

“Years ago they used to have him standing at the altar, but then they took everything out and it was just bare,” Dorothy Sauerbeck said about the statue. “Joe never said much about it, but none of us did. So when Father Neuhaus came up here in July when they had the tour of the church, I told him I had the Risen Christ (statue) and he said he would like to have it back. I told him that he was more than welcome to it.”

The restoration job was not an easy one, but Father Neuhaus knew a gentlemen who specialized in that kind of work and called Dorothy when that man was in town. The man picked up the statue and made the necessary improvements to restore it as close to the original as possible. Dorothy's children, David Sauerbeck and Regina Murphy, decided that they would pay for the improvements to the statue and donate the money in their mother's name.

“We had Risen Jesus sitting on our patio for 20 years. Father Neuhaus knew someone that does that kind of work. The two statues that sit in the back of church had been repainted by that man. We took pictures of Jesus back there - his hand was all broken - and showed Father so he could ask his friend if he could fix it. That is what we gave mom for Christmas last year - getting that statue restored in her name in memory of my dad and my brother,” Murphy said.

The Sauerbeck family was surprised at how well the finished restoration turned out. The shattered hand with the missing fingers was mended to look almost new and the statue was returned quickly after the work had been done.

“It didn't take him long either. I have pictures of what it looked like before and what it looks like now. The work that he did - the one hand was completely gone. It was just down to the wire sculpture that was underneath it,” Murphy said.

At Easter Sunday mass, the Risen Jesus statue was placed on a side altar with a small plaque on its base that commemorated Dorothy's late husband Joseph and son Thomas.

Other items that had formerly been a part of the church's interior have also been returned to St. Joseph's.

“Different people took different pieces from the church just to save it and there's an Infant Jesus of Prague that someone had in their house and I think that was the first thing that was brought back when Father William Neuhaus was brought in,” Murphy said. “He was interested in bringing the old church back and people started bringing stuff back.”  

- Story by Bryan Burke, associate editor/Photos by Regina Murphy

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