Flight Out of the Northwest Corner!


"Who are they, and what are they doing there?" This is the question that several SNC students were asking at the dawn of the new academic year. Many suggested it was Adam and Eve. Some thought it was Jesus approaching the woman at the well. Good guesses; but in fact, it's Mary and Joseph. Mary is announcing to Joseph that she is with child; she takes hold of his hand and directs it to the child within her womb.

The statuary was commissioned by the parish back in 1999 upon the renovation and re-dedication of Old Saint Joseph Church. The couple have occupied space in a devotional chapel in the northwest corner of the church since the renovation. I'm surprised that many of our students claim that they have never noticed the folks who were sitting there for the past nine years! The saintly duo moved to their new outdoor location in late August.

As returning students took up residency on campus this past August and as Norbertines would drive into and out of the priory garage, many were startled by the change of scenery for several weeks. The sight of these two in one's peripheral vision was out of the ordinary -- and honestly, rather startling. Now it seems as though the newness has worn off; we are getting used to their new surroundings. Next spring, new plantings including flowers and shrubbery will enhance their new home.

Meanwhile, in the vacated chapel in the church, a different image of Our Lady will be featured in the northwest corner. Votive candle trees will flank the Marian image which will allow students, year-rounders and parish visitors to light candles as we keep loved ones and ourselves in prayer. The room has been power cleaned by Judy, our church sexton, and the room has been painted by Larry, our SNC facilities campus painter. The votive trees should arrive any day now, we're just waiting for the smoke exhaust system to be implemented in the room for safety reasons. The room will always feature an image of Mary; yet the image may change as do the liturgical seasons. Professor Donald Taylor of St. Norbert College will assist us in offering devotional images of Mary to enhance our prayer.

Returning outside, Mary and Joseph have been seeing quite a bit of action in their new digs, especially from those who enter and exit the church from the south side and those who walk and drive the church/priory alley. Fully aware that they are finding respite on a college campus, I should not have been surprised that I would find Mary offering Joseph a can of Bud Lite as I exited the church on an early Saturday morning in early September. After removing the empty can, I've become a bit more vigilant of the Holy Family. Since that one morning, I now find any number of flowers tucked in the hands to the two -- a much more graceful scene, indeed.

Once the new chapel is finished and blessed, I'll be sure to offer an update here. Until then, Mary and Joseph's new stance on campus is a reminder to all passersby that, "God's flock is in your midst; give it a shepherd's care!"

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

HOOOORAY!!! You're back!!!

I've always loved these figures of Mary and Joseph and have "shown them off" to family and friends who weren't aware of their presence. Happily they are now "out in the open".

3M

Anonymous said...

Okay, seriously, the statues scare me. They scared me while they were in St. Joe's in that back room like they were watching me. Now whenever I pass by them my mind thinks they are real people for a moment. I have no idea what it is about them that freaks me out a little.
At least I haven't had any nightmares...yet...

Katie C said...

Glad the blog is back :-) Your story reminds me of the time when the Abbott was draped in purple and tied with ropes for Lent and a student thought someone was playing a prank and pretending to make the Abbot a hostage. Although I am sure you did not appreciate the beer can, it did bring back find SNC memories of similar stunts :-)

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