LAFAYETTE, La. — In front of St. Johns Cathedral, a new sculpture has been installed in Downtown Lafayette.
The "Homeless Jesus", is a bronze sculpture made by Christian Canadian sculptor Timothy Schmalz, whose artworks have been displayed around the world including Germany, Amsterdam, and even the Vatican.
A figure lays on a bench depicting Jesus' wounds, provoking people to think about the concept of homelessness and preventing them from misinterpreting those who are experiencing it.
Schlamz says his art is intended to make you think twice before judging others.
"It challenges us to see the sacred in everyone especially and starting out at the least in our community," said Schlamz.
This artwork serves to remind others that anyone can become homeless, according to Chantel Matthieu, President of Cajun Compassion which is a nonprofit that offers food and clothing to the homeless in our area.
"Most Americans are one paycheck from laying on that bench, I know I've been there," said Matthieu. "I'm here again after working so many years, after being clean for so many years, there's just circumstances that happen."
"Homeless Jesus", was installed at the Cathedral of St. John to also recognize 50 years of Catholic Charities of Acadiana. The organization provides essential services to those who are experiencing hunger, homelessness, and poverty.
"We are deeply grateful for the generosity of our donor, who has enriched our community with this spiritual sculpture, and for the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist for offering their campus for its public display. For generations, our community has demonstrated its faith and deeply rooted compassion through the service to those in need. Our sincere hope is that this legacy of compassion will endure as a prominent characteristic of Acadiana culture and that this sculpture may aid as a reminder to seek the face of Christ in the distressing disguise of the poor," said Kim Boudreaux, Chief Executive Officer for Catholic Charities of Acadiana.
"I think our culture judges people on their worth, their net worth, and how much money they have," Schmalz said. "[People without homes] they're more important. They are very much as important as everyone else."
20-year-old Tahj Breaux, who is experiencing homelessness says the sculpture can change people's mindsets about those in need.
"A conversation would solve a lot of problems you know? Try to understand what happened first before you judge somebody based on how they look you gotta have a conversation first, like they say communication is key."
The "Homeless Jesus" sculpture is located in front of St. Johns Cathedral on Cathedral street.