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This group was organized in August 1984 for the purpose of making stained glass windows for Holy Ghost Church. Fifty people were trained to this and twenty five stayed with the group for over ten years while they made the windows. While actually there no longer remains a group with regular meetings, the work on the windows continues. Recently, Maryellen Mathews and Jose Chavez have started to help original member Susan Fish and new designer of the windows, David Morris. If you have a desire to work with this group, please notify the parish office and we will put you in touch with a group member.
HISTORY OF HOLY GHOST STAINED GLASS GROUP
BY EDWARD J. BLACKBURN
In the late 70’s, my wife, Janice, bought a twenty inch square stained glass panel from a man, who had it displayed in his yard on the Hempstead Highway. She brought it home and was so proud of it, and I hurt her feelings by telling her I thought it was ugly. The glass colors in it were a very poor selection, and the workmanship was worse. It was made using half inch wide lead came, and every piece of glass in it rattled when the panel was shaken. Most of the solder joints were cracked because they were what is known as “Cold Solder’ joints. After examining the piece, I told Janice that I had never done any stained glass work, but I could surely do a better job than the piece she had bought.
About a month after Janice bought that stained glass panel, I saw an ad in the newspaper about a commercial stained glass studio that was organizing a class for beginners. I signed up and completed the three hour per night – six night set of classes. In this class we learned the basics of working with stained glass using the foil method of construction. Upon completion of the classes using the foil method, I signed up with another studio to learn the lead came method of construction. These classes were held same as the first – three hours night each for six nights. I also took a series of classes, which were supposed to be for advanced students. As it turns out, that series of classes was a waste of time and money.
When I finished the three series of classes, I set up a work area in my garage, where I could practice my skills in working with stained glass. I insulated the garage and installed a window air conditioner and a heater, which allowed me to work year round
After about three years of working in my garage, I figured I was ready to tackle a larger project. During a conversation with Fr. Chandonnet, our Holy Ghost Pastor at the time, I asked him why Holy Ghost Church didn’t have stained glass windows like other churches. His answer was, the Parish couldn’t afford them. I let the matter drop at that answer.
About a year later, I again broached the subject with Fr. Chandonet of stained glass windows for Holy Ghost, and again he said the Parish couldn’t afford it. I then asked him what he thought of a “Do it yourself project” on the windows, and he asked me to explain my thoughts. After explaining what I had in mind, he said it sounded good to him – “Let’s do it”. Shortly after that conversation, he was transferred out of Holy Ghost, and I more or less forgot the project.
During Fr. Rob Ruhnke’s term as Pastor, I broached the subject with him. He liked the idea, and very quickly had a flyer inserted in the Sunday Bulletin, asking for parishioners to sign up, who might be interested in either working on the windows or contributing to the financing of the windows. From that one flyer, we received about two hundred written responses – just about evenly split between workers and financial donors to the project.
In order to give Fr. Ruhnke some feel for the amount of money we could save with a “Do it yourself project”, I obtained estimates from two local commercial studios that specialized in stained glass windows for churches. Their bids covered design, build, ,and install, plus installing outside protection over all windows. One studio bid $65.00 per square foot, and the other studio bid $225.00 per square foot. After talking to both bidders, I decided that the one that bid the $225.00 per square foot was the only one of the two that really knew what he was doing.
At about this time, Holy Ghost was preparing for its annual bazaar in October of 1983. For several years at bazaar time, Jim and Mary Jane O’Rourke would donate a bicycle to the bazaar, plus they ran a booth selling chances on the bicycle raffle. Their booth usually consisted of a table set up under one of the oak trees in the school quadrangle. I made a deal with them in ’83, whereby I would help them sell bicycle raffle tickets in exchange for them letting me hang a sign in the oak tree asking for volunteers for the stained glass window project.
Our first volunteer was Debbie Freel, a parishioner, who came by asking questions, and then decided she couldn’t do it. After a little coaxing from her husband, she finally agreed to sign up, and thus became our first volunteer. It was Holy Ghost’s lucky day when she volunteered, because it turned out she was a multi talented commercial artist, and also our most enthusiastic member. She wound up designing the three front door panels, the four large windows in the nave of the church, and the Holy Family Window, which was installed in the cry room.. She not only designed these windows, she also helped to make them and install them.
When the 1983 bazaar finished, I started contacting all the parishioners who had signed up following Fr. Ruhnke’s flyer in the Sunday Bulletin. Of the approximately one hundred, who indicated they were interested in learning to do stained glass, and working on the windows, we wound up with fifty people, who said they were ready to get started.
I made a deal with a commercial stained glass studio to teach these fifty people the basics of doing stained glass, using the foil method of construction. They were trained in groups of six to eight people for a total of eighteen hours of classes per group. Thirty three of the original fifty completed the training. Each of these thirty three volunteers purchased their own set of stained glass tools from this studio.
Upon completion of this basic course, during which each person completed a small stained glass project of their own, I then started training all of them at the Holy Ghost Convent, in how to do stained glass using the lead came method of construction. This is the method preferred for making stained glass church windows. During this training period, we had some people drop out, and other newcomers to join us, so that our total work force remained fairly constant at around thirty three.
When this training was completed, Debbie Freel designed the three panels for the front doors, and we then started in earnest building stained glass panels. These three panels were installed February 6, 1985. With the completion of these three panels, Debbie then designed the four large windows in the nave of the church, while at the same time Bud Foshee was designing the forty eight panels, which were to be installed on both sides of the double doors in both the East and West transepts.
Next, Bud got busy designing the four Pentecost windows, which were installed in both the East and West transepts. When these were finished, Debbie then designed the six panels, which made up the Holy Family window, which was installed on the East wall of the then cry room. When the new bride’s room was completed in 2010, this window was moved to the South side of the bride’s room, facing the interior of the church.
Next on the agenda was Bud Foshee designing the two windows in the ushers room, and he two windows in the religious articles room. I decided to get in my licks in this designing game, so I designed the windows in the six confessionals.
When the church was built in 1962, four stained glass windows, made in Germany, were installed in the church.. These windows were above the double doors in both the East and West transepts, one above the choir loft, and one in the West wall of what was then the Baptistery (now the cry room). This window represented the sacrament of Baptism. It was later decided, to fill in six spaces in the North wall of the Baptistery with oval panels, which would represent the other six sacraments. Dan Ryan designed the first on of these oval panels, then Susan Fish picked up on his design, and designed the remaining five oval panels. After installing the oval panels, Susan Fish then designed the six panels in the Sacristy.
Our next project was to redo three one hundred plus year old windows that Holy Ghost acquired from the LaCombe, Louisana seminary chapel. After repairing them, and making them large enough to fit the windows in the Priest’s chapel in the Holy Ghost Rectory, they were installed, making a beautiful addition to the chapel.
Next, Susan Fish designed the two large windows, which were installed above the stairwell landing in the Rectory. Each window measures fifty-two inches by seventy-two inches. One depicts the Redemptorist Shield, and the other depicts Our Mother of Perpetual Help.
On June 28, 2005, the baldachino, which had been installed above the main altar when the church was built, crashed down on the altar, doing extensive damage. Our then Pastor, Fr. Greg May, decided not to replace the baldachino, but instead, to have a window cut in the wall above and behind the main altar. Susan Fish then designed the seventy seven inch diameter Holy Spirit Window, which was made and installed on July 4, 2008.
At the height of the project, there were thirty four people working on the windows. Three more joined in helping to install the protective Lexan sheets on the outside of all panels. In total, one hundred and seventeen panels were made and installed. The smallest measuring 14” x 20 “, while the largest three panels each measures 44” X 77”in the Holy Family window. Total square footage of all panels is 736 sq. ft, and the cost came to about $10.00 per sq. ft., thanks to all the volunteer labor.