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Chris Brannan, a member of Holy Cross Parish in Omaha, head of maintenance and a woodworker, looks up at the silhouette of a risen Christ he made out of wood to help the parish celebrate the Easter season. Photo by Joe Ruff/Staff.

Omaha parish celebrates Easter season with risen Christ artwork

Holy Cross Parish in Omaha is celebrating the Easter season in a special way: With a 10-foot by 12-foot silhouette of the risen Christ, made of maple wood and mounted behind the altar and the church’s crucifix.

"You see the crucifixion, what Jesus did for us, but also the power of Christ to overcome death and sin," said Father Carl Salanitro, pastor. "Jesus is raised in a powerful way."

Longtime parishioner Connie Swanson said she was not at the Easter Vigil, when the more than 100-pound sculpture was placed on the sanctuary’s back wall, and she saw the artwork for the first time Easter Sunday.

"When I walked in Easter morning, it just about knocked me back," she said. "I said, ‘this is incredible.’"

And the artwork – which shows wounds in Christ’s hands and is above an empty tomb that also was placed behind the altar – has continued to be part of her reflections this Easter season, helping her better understand the magnitude of Christ’s gift of life in the Resurrection, she said.

Father Salanitro said the large wall in the back area of the sanctuary has stood largely empty for years, and this Easter he hoped to do something with it. Then the idea of depicting a risen Christ came to mind.

He and members of the liturgy committee talked about it and Chris Brannan, a woodworker, member of the parish and head of maintenance for the parish and school, was enlisted to help.

Deacon Tom Burton of Holy Cross Parish, parishioner Larry Eickhoff and others also helped. Brannan said he worked about 15 hours over three days carving and sanding 20 boards and gluing them together to create the risen Christ.

He asked for the Lord’s guidance as he worked on the project, and he is pleased with the result, Brannan said.

"I’m glad everybody likes it," he said.

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