April 10, 2019
FSSP Joliet, the Illinois apostolate that honors St. Joseph as their patron saint, commemorated his March 19th feast with particular zeal this year. The feast day of their great patron was, of course, cause for celebration enough, but adding to the joy of the parish was the recent completion of renovations that, over the past two years, have turned a somewhat plain structure into a house fit for a King. Joining pastor Fr. Michael Magiera and the parishioners of St. Joseph in their celebrations were special guests from the East Coast: North American Superior Fr. Michael Stinson, Director of Development Fr. Zachary Akers and FSSP Allentown pastor Fr. Gregory Pendergraft, who assisted Fr. Magiera as deacon, subdeacon and MC at the Solemn High Mass he offered in the evening. Also attending in choir was Fr. Arnaud Devillers, pastor of St. Rose of Lima Church, our apostolate in Quincy on the western border of the state. The Mass was followed by the St. Joseph’s Table celebration, an Italian tradition observed by several parishes in our District (stay tuned for an upcoming post on that).
Fr. Magiera first began contemplating a beautification project for St. Joseph Church during Easter Week of 2017. He contacted his friend, Mr. Todd Brausch of Todd Brausch Studios, with whom he had worked on the restoration of Holy Rosary Church in Indianapolis back in 2008. Fr. Magiera first saw Mr. Brausch’s work in the restoration project he did at the Oratory of Ss. Philomena and Cecilia, the FSSP’s apostolate in Brookville, Indiana.
The final plan for the church of St. Joseph was completed in early summer of 2018 and work finally began in September. Prior to that, the entire apse had to be re-drywalled. Basic painting of the interior was done in October and November, and Mr. Brausch arrived in November to begin the artistic design process. Ultimately, not one surface of the church interior was left untouched; every area received a repainting and, depending on the conception of the whole, its appropriate design touches.
The area of prime concentration was, of course, the sanctuary, comprising the apse, high altar and two side altars. All three altars are new and custom-made. The high altar with its mid-size reredos was installed prior to December 2016, and the other altars and the enhanced reredos for the high altar in 2018. The pulpit was also custom-made and installed in the fall of 2018. The new altar rail was created and installed by two parish volunteers, Mr. Michael Carduff and Mr. James Reichstadt, who contributed vastly to the project by freely donating their services and securing materials at reduced prices.
Mr. Brausch’s design work was inspired by classic French Gothic churches. The ceiling of the sanctuary represents the heavens, with the Holy Spirit descending with tongues of fire through stars that symbolize both the star of Bethlehem and the Crucifixion. The rich red on the sanctuary walls recalls Our Lord’s sacrifice for the sins of men, and gold-leaf is used for its purity that reminds the faithful to always give their best to the Lord.
And certainly this parish has done just that. We congratulate St. Joseph on the completion of the project, which testifies to their dedication in giving God their very best. +
Our thanks to Fr. Michael Magiera for the details of the renovations.