12/02/2013 09:27 EST | Updated 02/01/2014 05:59 EST

Timothy Schmalz's Jesus statue stolen from Toronto church

Ontario sculptor Timothy Schmalz says he's in shock after learning his latest work — a statue of Jesus — was stolen from a downtown Toronto church.

The life-size statue, called "Whatsoever You Do," had been sitting outside the Church of Saint Stephen-in-the-Fields in downtown Toronto since September. The resin sculpture was going to be converted to bronze once the artist and the church raise enough money.

"It became almost part of the community. People really appreciate the message," he told Carol Off, host of CBC's As It Happens.

This is not the first time Schmalz's work has made headlines. About two weeks ago, another statue of Jesus by Schmalz, called "Jesus the Homeless," was on display at St.Peter's Square in the Vatican City and caught the eye of Pope Francis, who briefly prayed in front of the statue and gave it an official blessing.

Listen to Schmalz's conversation with CBC's As It Happens about what his statue means to the community and what he plans to do next to replace it.