Foundation official says ‘nothing at all sinister’ about removal of Smyth statue at Maryville

Citing necessary repairs, a group started by the Rev. John P. Smyth says a statue of the late priest was removed from Maryville Academy in Des Plaines, denying an Archdiocese of Chicago claim that it was taken without authority.

SHARE Foundation official says ‘nothing at all sinister’ about removal of Smyth statue at Maryville
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Citing necessary repairs, an official for a charitable foundation started by the Rev. John P. Smyth says the organization removed this statue of the late priest that honored his work with children at Maryville Academy in Des Plaines. The Archdiocese of Chicago says the statue was removed without permission.

Daily Herald File Photo, 1996

Citing necessary repairs, an official for a charitable foundation started by the Rev. John P. Smyth says the organization removed a statue of the late priest from Maryville Academy in Des Plaines and they deny Archdiocese of Chicago claims it was taken without authority.

Smyth, Maryville’s longtime leader, died in April at age 84, just as claims surfaced that he molested two teenage boys while they lived on the campus in 2002-03. The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services in June deemed the accusations unfounded, and Smyth’s attorney strongly denies the allegations.

Called “Standing Tall,” the bronze statue was dedicated June 29, 1996, to honor Smyth’s work at Maryville. The statue, featuring Smyth with his arms outstretched to a child soaring above him, was installed in the middle of a circular entrance off Central Road to what now is the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe’s side of the sprawling archdiocese property.

Archdiocese officials say they want the statue returned, contending that it was removed without permission by the Standing Tall Charitable Foundation that Smyth launched in 2005.

But Frank DiFranco, a Standing Tall board member and Smyth’s lawyer, said a company was hired to remove the statue a few months ago for refurbishing, which was “nothing at all sinister.” He said mourners at the priest’s funeral noticed the statue appeared deteriorated and a benefactor offered to have it repaired.

For more on this story, read the Daily Herald.

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