Church celebrates stained glass windows

“It’s amazing,” said Father Joseph Miksch, pastor of St. Isidore Parish in Columbus. “It creates such an incredible atmosphere for prayer and devotion.”
Father Miksch was reflecting on installation over the last 10 years of more than 30 stained glass windows in the church. Meticulously hand-painted, the windows depict biblical scenes, portraits of saints and angels, and include upper-level windows designed to catch the light as the congregation prays.
Father Miksch and about 550 parishioners celebrated completion of the project May 6 with hymns, prayers and a detailed presentation on the windows and the meaning behind them.
Choirs sang and sacred music played. Sunlight streamed through the windows – including the recently completed upper level, or “clerestory,” windows, which chronicle the seasons and the sacraments and capped the stained glass window project. 
 “It did feel like quite an accomplishment for our parish,” said parishioner Jeff Christensen, part of the committee overseeing the window project, which began in 2007.
Using a laser pointer at the gathering, Father Miksch, pastor since 1997, reviewed each upper level window, pointing out, for example, how the windows in one area symbolize both early springtime, with budding cottonwoods alongside Nebraska rivers, and the sacrament of confirmation, as a fawn finds its feet and young robins spread their wings.
The window project grew out of the design of the church, which was completed in 2007. The octagonal design incorporated so much space that “we realized right away we needed to do something with windows,” Father Miksch said. He worked with the committee from the beginning to keep the massive project going.
The windows are placed on each wall of the church, and they include a window that frames the crucifix on the wall above the altar, and a large window to its side that depicts creation at the hand of God, the Holy Spirit descending upon the Virgin Mary, and St. Isidore and his wife, St. Maria, representing redeemed humanity. Portrait windows display archangels and saints from biblical to modern times.
“Isidore is patron of farmers, and four seasons are very important to farmers, and also part of our theology, God being present in all times among us,” Father Miksch said. 
Created by Willett Hauser Architectural Glass of Winona, Minn., the windows cost about $860,000 and were paid for through a stained glass fund that drew donations and memorials.
The windows could make the church a Nebraska showpiece, Father Miksch said. No organized tours are planned, but people are invited to visit the church to view the windows. The parish also plans to publish a book explaining the significance of each window and the architecture of the church.
 “Father Joe downplays his role, but he was the inspiration,” Christensen said. “We’d get his take, but he also would step aside – he’d say, ‘This is your parish’s windows. Priests come and go.’ But he made sure that things tied together and that we completed what we started.” 
And parishioners were aware they were working on a once-in-a-lifetime project, Christensen said. “It did seem like we needed to pinch ourselves that it became a reality.”
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