Stations of the Cross, taken from Edmonton's St. Pius X Church when it was closed in 2012, have found a new home in the chapel of Sherwood Park's Archbishop Jordan High School.

WCR PHOTO | THANDIWE KONGUAVI

Stations of the Cross, taken from Edmonton's St. Pius X Church when it was closed in 2012, have found a new home in the chapel of Sherwood Park's Archbishop Jordan High School.

December 7, 2015
THANDIWE KONGUAVI
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

Divine intervention, says Alene Mutala, led to one parish's lost treasure sparking the transformation of a Sherwood Park high school into a building of faith.

"I truly believe that it was the work of the Holy Spirit that was with me that day," Mutala said of her visit to the archdiocesan archives where she came upon the stained glass Stations of the Cross that had been salvaged from Edmonton's St. Pius X Church, closed in 2012.

"The Spirit gave me the courage to ask what the stained glass was, where it came from and if we could have it for our chapel at Archbishop Jordan Catholic High School in Sherwood Park," said the religious education consultant for Elk Island Catholic Schools.

Former St. Pius X parishioners remember the stained glass as the most beautiful Stations of the Cross in the archdiocese.

"They gave a warmth to the church," said David Belland, 86. "As you came into the church you got that warm feeling. It was a beautiful church."

Alene Mutala

Alene Mutala

Clara Van Hecke, 91, who volunteered at the parish for more than 50 years after her family built their house across the street in 1957, remembers praying the Stations of the Cross many times at those windows.

SO MEANINGFUL!

"They were part of the church. They made it so meaningful, so beautiful," said Hecke. "They were very beautiful, oh, I can't just even describe."

Its beloved windows are now getting a second life and another chance to bless the faithful - albeit, a much younger faithful.

The Stations of the Cross originally at St. Pius X Church are now housed at the recently-built Archbishop Jordan Catholic High School (ABJ) in Sherwood Park.

Once again, the windows are on display and attracting great admiration.

Educational assistant Marie Petryshen said the windows "bring the chapel alive. They're absolutely stunning, just absolutely beautiful."

When St. Pius X was closed in July 2012 after 56 years of ministering to Catholics in northwest Edmonton, the windows were sent to the Archives at the Archdiocese of Edmonton.

DISCOVERY

It was there that Mutala happened upon the Stations of the Cross and fell in love with them.

Grade 12 students Mark Ramos, Moria Kaviziya and Seuna Alarape sit outside the chapel of Archbishop Jordan Catholic High School.

WCR PHOTO | THANDIWE KONGUAVI

Grade 12 students Mark Ramos, Moria Kaviziya and Seuna Alarape sit outside the chapel of Archbishop Jordan Catholic High School.

With the support of superintendent Michael Hauptman, Elk Island Catholic Schools acquired the stained glass Stations of the Cross from the archdiocese for the ABJ chapel.

The maintenance workers took on the restoration of the windows as an "act of love," said Mutala.

Now installed in backlit frames at the school chapel, the stations turned out more beautiful than anyone imagined they would, she said.

SPIRITUAL WARMTH

"I was just in shock, in awe of how beautiful they are," said Mutala. "They bring a spiritual warmth and presence to the whole school."

The school's business manager, Wendy Prud'homme, said to have such windows made today would have been a very pricey venture.

"That they were there and that we could use them was amazing," said Prud'homme.

The stations were made in Rennes, France, by master glassmaker Vitraux D'Art E. Rault and originally cost $2,800, purchased with a donation from parishioner Sam Gagnon.

Principal Brett Cox said the windows, visible from the chapel as you enter the school, have helped transform Archbishop Jordan from a nice building to a faith building.

"It's become a very intimate, holy place to experience God," said Cox. "When kids come in here they drop their guard and it becomes emotional, and likewise with the staff. We had a prayer session in here on one of our PD days and it was emotional. It was incredible."

Choirs that use the school to practise now often choose the chapel instead of the school's designated choir room, he said.

Grade 12 student Moria Kaviziya said her choir section prefers to practise in the chapel, and she sometimes goes by the Stations of the Cross to "zone out, and talk with Jesus.

"It's a reminder of how Jesus died for us. It's a reminder of our faith," said Kaviziya.

Hecke said she is happy that the stations of her former parish are being used.

"If it helps people in their faith, for that reason, yes," she said. "You can't replace those windows. Those were a special kind."

Cox said he hopes former parishioners of St. Pius X will attend the blessing of the windows on Dec. 9 at 9:30 a.m. Archbishop Richard Smith and Bishop David Motiuk will lead the celebration.

"It will be a neat celebration for some of those people to know the legacy of their church was passed on and will be enjoyed for a long time," he said.