While waiting to pick up his son at St. Joseph School in Wichita, Clark Wiechman saw Mike McDaneld carrying a large wooden statue. A couple of thoughts came to mind: the statue is in bad shape, and his mother could restore it to its former glory.
“Clark knew his mom is a great artist and has done a lot of great things with art,” said Clark’s father, Bob.
McDaneld, the pastoral assistant at the parish, agreed to let the Wiechmans take the 5-foot-tall statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus to Nancy for her to consider restoration.
“When I saw the statue we realized it had probably been out in the weather for 40 to 50 years,” she said, adding that she knew it was going to take an immense effort, but that she wanted to use her time and talent – and a bit of treasure – for the church.
Nancy bought two new sanders to remove the nearly petrified paint on the statue and quickly discovered that the new sanders “wouldn’t even faze it.”
What was needed, literally, was a sand blaster. That’s when their son, Rocky, came into the picture. The statue and clouds at the base were taken to Rocky who was able to remove the paint within a couple of hours.
“People probably thought we had a body coming back into our apartment,” Nancy said with a laugh.
She began working on the statue on the porch at her complex. The first task was to fill the huge cracks that had opened while the wood was exposed to the elements. It took two of the larger containers of Durham’s Rock Hard Water Putty mixed with water and wood glue to fill in the cracks.
Nancy and Bob found that they were going to have to move the statue inside their apartment to finish working on it. “We had big tarps,” she said. “But, of course I had to clean afterwards!”
Nancy made a base for the statue and attached it. She used primarily red and a cream colored paint, except for Jesus’ skin and hair. “It was a job but after I finished it, I thought it came out nice and so rewarding to me.”
“The hands and face are perfect,” she said in praise of the statue’s original artist. “The toes, everything, looks real. Whoever did it was amazing.”
The statue will be housed indoors from now on and will be an inspiration for the seminarians at the St. Joseph House of Formation on the campus of St. Joseph Parish in Wichita.

Do you know anything about the statue?
It was thought that the statue may have come from St. Antonius Kirche Church in Schoenchen, Kansas, located about 10 miles south of Hays. Inquiries by the Catholic Advance of older parishioners there who might have remembered the statue were inconclusive.
Those who may know of the statue’s provenance are asked to email advancenews@cdowk.org.