Official newspaper of the Diocese of Madison, Wisconsin
CROSS PLAINS — A new stained glass window will be going in above the reredos wall behind the altar at St. Francis Xavier Parish in Cross Plains.
According to Fr. Scott Jablonski, current pastor of St. Francis Xavier, “I am the beneficiary of the work by my predecessor. Fr. Tom Kelley arranged for us to have a new stained glass window created for our church’s sanctuary.” It will be unveiled on Sunday, Dec. 19, at the 8:30 a.m. Mass.
Bishop Donald J. Hying of Madison will bless the window on Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022.
Fr. Tom Kelley, now pastor at Sacred Hearts of Jesus & Mary Parish in Sun Prairie, WI, explained that the current clear window is 12 feet by about 14 feet.
“When it was originally put in, in 2007, when we did the renovation of the church, there wasn’t an intention to put in a stained glass window at that time.”
He said the project began because of a deathbed promise he made to Sr. John Rose Acker in 2013. Sister John Rose served as the pastoral minister at St. Francis Xavier Parish for 23 years.
You can read more about her in previous Catholic Herald articles at https://madisoncatholicherald.org/sister-cancer/ and https://madisoncatholicherald.org/sr-john-rose-acker-dies/
Father Kelley recalled, “When Sister John Rose was dying, and when she did die, July 6 of 2013, she had a request, she wanted to have some of her memorial money go toward a stained glass window. And I asked her, ‘Okay, what would it be?’ And she said, ‘Oh, either the Trinity or a Heavenly banquet. Got them both in there.’ And so I think we honored that intention.”
Father Kelley described the elements of the window:
“The image is very Eucharistic. From the very top, we’ve got a traditional depiction of God in Heaven. The central panels portray the Most Holy Trinity with the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father and Son as we recite weekly in our creed. Jesus assumes the pose as the Salvador Mundi or the Savior of the World. Creation-centered spirituality leads back to Christ who saves not just humanity from our sins, but Christ saves all created beings and plants.
“Making things that grow from the earth holy and revelatory of God and worthy of taking on the form of Christ’s Body and Blood from the earthly gifts of wheat made into bread and grapes made into wine, which the ascending angels are carrying to the heavenly banquet. Jesus’s body is exposed making the connection to his exposed Body in the monstrance below.
“Mary’s left-hand points toward the monstrance to demonstrate that this is very much her son’s body on earth as is the Body of Christ she is seated next to in Heaven.
“Three saints depicted are of relics left in the altar by Sister John Rose and we have papers authenticating them. Those saints are the Little Flower, Thérèse of Lisieux, Thomas More, and Francis of Assisi. The saints from left to right are Thérèse of Lisieux, Francis Xavier, Joseph and Mary, Raphael, Thomas More, and Francis of Assisi. St. Raphael represents the patron of the diocese of Madison.
“The history of our 167 years as a parish is represented by the log cabin and brick church which was destroyed by fire in 1972. The monstrance, candle holders, and the adoring angels are items that were in the older church, keeping us connected to the memory of our past. The Immaculate Heart of Mary statue in the newly remodeled chapel also connects us to previous generations who would have looked upon this same statue.
“The stone reredos wall obscures some of the adoration angels, candles, and monstrance. This is by design because we have the real monstrance and candles to adore every Tuesday. The full view of the window can be seen from the choir loft and from the side pews.
Father Kelley added, “Keep in mind the main perspective of the window needs to be viewed with the crucifix in front of it as the central focus of our worship that leads us to Heaven. The crucifix is positioned to complement the sending of the Holy Spirit after Jesus breathed his last and handed over his Spirit.
“In light of racial sensitivity these days, I would like to recognize that although the window is limited in its scope and ability to depict many saints with diverse races, I did choose a darker cherry wood for the corpus on our crucifix as the focus for worship rather than a linden wood which is a lighter color, like our Stations of the Cross, which is typical in many predominantly Caucasian Catholic churches.”
Willett Houser are the artisans working on this project. Their factory is located in Winona, Minn.
Father Kelley said, “I’ll continue to sort of watch the process and help Father Scott out with this for the installation. And I have a dedication for it at some point. But I’m very excited about it. Very pleased with it — how it all turned out. And I think it’s going to be a one-of-a-kind, beautiful piece that’s going to benefit us as a parish in our worship experience, and certainly be a point of pride for our entire diocese as well.”
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