Last weekend many of you saw and were moved by the new Lamb of God mural that was completed by sacred artist, Nick Markell and installed on the church’s east wall. The mural is deeply moving and filled with rich symbolism that represents that best of the Catholic aesthetic tradition. Nick will be with us next fall to give a detailed presentation on the mural and its underlying theology and meaning. The concept for the mural flowed from a colaboration of Nick and I, as we have worked on a number of projects over the last several years.

The mural is Christocentric in that all three saints are displaying a gesture of deference to the Lamb of God. The Lamb is the main protagonist of the mural and is the one from whom the life giving waters flow. St. John the Baptist is in the center of the mural because he is the patron saint of Québec and the most revered saint of French Canadians. Thérèse of Lisieux is depicted because she is also a favored French saint, a doctor of the Church and universally beloved by Catholics. St. Francis is depicted because he is a great universal saint who is beloved by Catholics and non-Catholics alike. His radical vision of love and unity set the world ablaze with the fragrance of God. These three saints together span the great epochs of Church history: the early Church; the medieval period; and the modern period. The water behind the saints ties to our local history and represents the Saint Anthony Falls and the beginning of the rich religious and cultural history of Minneapolis’ first neighborhood in which our parish is located. There will be more to come regarding the symbolism and meaning of the mural in future homilies, articles and presentations.

 

The installation of the new mural and renovation of the sacristy are the first two main projects of the interior restoration that will take place throughout our jubilee year. In the coming weeks and months the main walls of the church will be repainted, new flooring will be installed throughout, a new marble baptismal font and altar of repose will be fabricated and a new setting for our historic crucifix will be created which will place the cross in a more suitable and fitting location: centered on the back wall of the church, above the tabernacle. Without going back to a time period before Vatican II, our interior work in the church will represent an effort to restore the church to its former noble beauty, to unify design elements, and to create a warm and hospitable environment for parishioners, friends and guests. Having built a new church from the ground up in 2007 and 2008, I have extensive experience and interest in Catholic aesthetics.

Several information sessions were held in January and February to outline this vision and to illicit feedback. Many parishioners availed themselves of these opportunities and their feedback was important to me in moving forward. I and the parish are also guided by a new interior renovation committee comprised of the following parishioners and staff: Suzie Colianni, Deacon Thom and Lynne Winninger, Chris Ganza, Randy and Sarah Trask, Nannie Collins, Diane Millis, and Linda Ferris. It is an excellent group and they have provided very good counsel and guidance. Our Lady of Lourdes is also working with Conrad Schmitt Studios out of New Berlin, Wisconsin to develop an overall design concept for the restoration. We hope to have images to share with the parish very soon. Conrad Schmitt is the best studio of its kind in the Midwest and has recently completed renovations of the Capital building in St. Paul, Assumption Church in St. Paul and St. Charles Borromeo in St. Anthony. I have been impressed with their work product thus far and I am confident that they will help us beautifully restore our church.

In moving forward with our interior renovation, I would ask that you remain patient and not pre-judge the work until it is completed. It is not lost on me that some people do not like change, especially here in the upper Midwest. I also understand that there will not be perfect consensus (there never is in the Church) on every facet of the renovation. I do ask that you remain patient and open minded. There are several stages of the restoration and, as you will soon see, an overall vision that will guide us to a truly beautiful church. This is an exciting time for the parish! Our Jubilee year is well underway with our Gala set for this weekend our Mass for the City upcoming in June. We have moved from a sleepy boutique church to a vibrant urban parish. We have vital programming, opportunities to serve those in need and a community that is warm, welcoming, diverse and growing! Our church restoration and renovation will provide the impetus for renewal and inspiration as we move forward as a community of missionary disciples that joyfully lives and proclaims the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Peace,
Fr. Griffith