When Blessed Teresa of Calcutta Parish in Limerick was founded in 2006, much of the furnishings and ecclesiastical art for its beautiful modern Gothic church (sort of Gothic without the gloom) completed in 2012 were taken from a number of closed archdiocesan parishes from the past including St. Clement, St. Boniface, St. Peter, St. Clare and further afield, Immaculate Heart of Mary in Middleport, Pa. and the Chapel of Mercy Hospital in Scranton.
Now as an added touch on the exterior, on Aug. 30 Bishop Daniel Thomas blessed two brand-new pieces of artwork — new but executed in the Old World using centuries-old craftsmanship.
They are six-by-four-foot mosaics, commissioned by Blessed Teresa’s pastor, Father Paul Brandt, and crafted by the renowned Demetz Studio located in Ortisei, a small village near the Dolomite Mountains in Northern Italy.
They are mounted not inside the church but outside, near its daily Mass chapel. Such mosaics are especially suited for outdoor installations because the tiny glass tiles of the mosaics have their color all through, not just on the surface, and are virtually impervious to sun and rain. They will probably look good as new long after the church itself is in need of major repair. The mosaics depict Jesus with children, and Jesus washing the feet of his apostles.
They are really symbolic, Father Brandt explained, because they not only show Jesus but they also symbolize the humble work of the parish patron, Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, and her humble work among the poor.
“The artwork is absolutely beautiful, the way they were done, so bright and vibrant; the people in Italy did a wonderful job,” said Arlene Coleman, who was a member of St. Clare in Linfield before the parish closed along with St. Peter in Pottstown to become Blessed Teresa Parish. “Father Brandt has done a marvelous job on the parish and the school. Bishop Thomas has been here for every occasion. The Mass was beautiful (and) it seems nothing went wrong.”
Charles and Mary George, who also were from St. Clare Parish, had been thinking of moving down to Florida where the weather is great and the cost of living cheaper.
“There is such a nice parish family here it is hard to move,” Charles said. “We are fortunate coming from a small church in a small town, this is really something. The mosaics are beautiful. We are lucky to have such a church.”
As for the new art, “We were very fortunate to get a benefactor pay for them; they are beautiful,” Father Brandt said, adding “the benefactor chooses to remain anonymous.”
Blessed Teresa would like that.
Lou Baldwin is a freelance writer in Philadelphia.