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Stained glass windows transform sacred space at St. Edward

Stained glass at St. Edward

Jim Edbrooke (top), foreman for Botti Studio of Architectural Arts, Inc. helps co-worker Jeff Brown place a section of stained and art glass, reclaimed from the former Immaculate Conception in Whiting, into custom-made frames at St. Edward in Lowell on Jan. 30. (Anthony D. Alonzo photo)



Northwest Indiana Catholic


      LOWELL – Thanks to the initiative of Father Rick Holy, pastor, St. Edward parish has embraced a unique “window of opportunity” to beautify its sacred space and preserve some history thanks to another diocesan church.

      “This was a chance for part of a closed parish to ‘live on’ while adding a level of sacred beauty to our church that it has yet to experience, and will be part of a legacy that we will leave to those who come after us,” said Father Holy of 11 stained glass windows from Immaculate Conception in Whiting, which closed several years ago, and recently installed at St. Edward.

      “They turned out better than I thought they would,” said Father Holy as he watched artisans install the last of the windows on Jan. 30, “and the reflected colors add a new beauty to the church.

      “When a parish closes, it leaves a void, and being able to incorporate these windows into St. Edward is a win-win for both parishes. We hope to get the word out to former Immaculate Conception parishioners to come and see the windows in their new home,” Father Holy added.

      Pastor at St. Edward for less than a year when he proposed the project last April, Father Holy admits he was a bit apprehensive about asking for $85,553 to re-size the original windows with new art glass borders, fabricate frames and add protective double-paned clear glass backing. “That’s a lot of money, but not compared to purchasing new,” Father Holy noted, offering $20,000 in available parish funds to reduce the cost to $6,000 per window for an individual, family or group to “sponsor” a window and have a name or memorial added to the new border.

      For those who could not afford an entire window, the pastor suggested donations of any size would be welcome, adding $1,000 to the project himself.

      The response from the faithful was swift and enthusiastic. “We had sponsors for all of the windows within weeks,” Father Holy reported. “Individuals, families, and parish organizations responded. Some people contacted me and I had to tell them that all the windows were taken. We raised enough money to cover the full cost without using parish funds.”

      Three sisters who attended St. Edward School heard about the project and donated a window in memory of “The Kendra and Smitka families,” including their great-great grandparents, founding members of Immaculate Conception, and their great-grandmother Florence Maginot. “She would be elated to know that a beautiful piece of her baptismal church will have a permanent home in the baptismal church of her granddaughters,” wrote one of the donors.

      The project originated when Father Holy, who “thought our parish needed a shot in the arm,” visited several closed churches looking for sacred items that could beautify St. Edward. “There are not many parishes whose windows would fit our openings, most are much larger, but I found the perfect set of circumstances at Immaculate Conception.”

      The Whiting windows, which are likely close to100 years old since Immaculate Conception Church was dedicated in 1924, feature a central symbol or tableau of stained glass surrounded by small rectangular panes of pastel-colored art glass. A bit larger than the St. Edward window openings due to a border of smaller glass panes, the adaptation required removing the border and adding an extra panel of art glass at the bottom to match the original art glass.

      After measuring and conferring with artisans from Botti Studio of Architectural Arts, with workshops in Evanston, Ill. and LaPorte, Father Holy wrote to Bishop Donald J. Hying requesting that the Immaculate Conception windows be released to St. Edward, with a proposal to install 11 of the original 12 gaining approval.

      “They had to be removed from Immaculate Conception (slated to be razed) and transported to the LaPorte studio,” Father Holy explained.

      Foreman Jim Edbrooke of Botti Studio said the frames were first fabricated “to alleviate heat building up between the double panes,” with venting from bottom to top to prevent buckling or bowing.” Once the old windows were removed at St. Edward, the clear glass frames were installed while work continued on the original windows.

      “The colors change as you move around the church, and you’ll see a light display that changes with the seasons,” Edbrooke promised.


stained glass at St. Edward

Detail of stained glass featuring a scene from the Last Supper is pictured with a backdrop of art glass on a window recently installed at St. Edward in Lowell, on Jan. 30. (Anthony D. Alonzo photo)


stained glass at St. Edwards

Jeff Brown of Botti Studio of Architectural Arts, Inc. places a section of stained and art glass into a custom-made frame at St. Edward in Lowell on Jan. 30. Eleven windows from the former Immaculate Conception church in Whiting were moved, stored and then recently installed in the Lowell church covering clear windows in an effort to beautify the sacred space, according to Father Rick Holy, pastor. (Anthony D. Alonzo photo)

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