Diocesan News

New murals adorn sanctuary

All Saints Church in Holdrege celebrating continued renovation

Story by Reagan Scott

HOLDREGE (SNR) - On November 21, 2015, Bishop Conley celebrated a Mass of rededication at All Saints Parish in Holdrege after the completion of its sanctuary renovations.

Just over two years later, artist Corbert Gauthier has completed a mural for the space, after almost three months of painting.

The mural, which had been in development for a year and a half, helped to complete the parish’s years-long commitment to remodeling its worship space.

“It’s everything I could have hoped for,” pastor Father Thomas Lux said.

The mural, depicting the communion of saints, fills a space that is 30 feet at its widest and 18 feet at its tallest. The church’s crucifix is at the painting’s center, with Saint John, the Blessed Virgin Mary and Mary Magdalene at the foot of the cross. To Jesus’s left is the angel Gabriel, while Michael the Archangel kneels on his right.

See a gallery of images from the mural in the photo gallery.

More saints who appear on both sides of the crucifix are representative of varied ethnicities. Because the parish has a relic of Saint Maria Goretti, they have a special devotion to her. For this reason, she is the only other specific saint depicted. 

Gauthier said, “Because [St. Maria Goretti] was a martyr, I chose to depict her with the red scarf and the lilies as a symbol of purity.”

Gauthier noted that leaving the rest of the saints without specific identities allows worshipers to assign their own meaning or identity to each figure.

All of the saints are clothed in white robes and are holding palm branches. This imagery comes from Revelation 7: 9-10.

This verse, stenciled in gold lettering around the altar reads, “Wearing White Robes and Holding Palm Branches, They Cried Out in a Loud Voice, Salvation Comes From Our God, Who is Seated on the Throne and From the Lamb.”

“The mural is breathtaking, it takes you to a whole different realm,” Becky Deaver, the music coordinator for the parish, said. “It’s so impactful to the liturgy. It and the other renovations have helped me in my own prayer life.”

Each day, Gauthier would start work on the mural by 4 or 4:30 a.m., stopping to go to Mass with the students at All Saints School as they began the school day. While the painting was being completed, the parish attended Mass in a multipurpose room, and Deaver said she was relieved when they were able to attend Mass in the sanctuary once again. 

“It was like stepping back into our old home,” she said. “To have this mural completed right before Christmas, the timing is so amazing.”

Gauthier, a 1973 graduate of Pius X High School in Lincoln, has been a realist painter and illustrator since his graduation from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design in 1983. His professional résumé includes work for well-known companies General Mills, Pillsbury, Nabisco and more, but it was his work in the Lincoln Diocese that put him on Father Lux’s radar.

He said, “We had heard about [Gauthier] and his reputation due to his work at St. Anthony’s Parish in Steinauer.”

Gauthier is also responsible for paintings at the Marian Sisters’ Chapel and a portrait of Bishop Glennon P. Flavin that was commissioned by the diocese and the School Sisters of Christ the King.

Before beginning the mural in Holdrege, Gauthier completed three renditions of the scene, using input from the parish. It was just one of the ways parishioners were involved in the project. 

At the beginning of the renovation process, a facilities committee was established to head up the project, and many people were involved in fundraising efforts.

“The dynamic parish that we have has helped to bring about these renovations,” Deaver said, “and the renovations have helped to make the parish more dynamic.” 

Of course, the renovation of the entire space could not have been completed without the work of Sacred Design Studio. Char Kriz, the owner of Sacred Design along with her husband Jean, developed the initial plan for the renovation with the help of Father Jamie Hottovy. Father Hottovy is currently pastor of St. Teresa Parish in Lincoln.

Jean, a master carpenter, did much of the woodwork for the renovation, including the altar and the carving of the Holy Spirit above the crucifix. Char’s son Dan Sharp did the tile work as well as work on the ceiling and arches.

“We tie the liturgy to every aspect of a renovation,” Char Kriz said. “Art is a teaching tool that touches all of the senses; it brings meaning to the changes.”

After the first part of the renovation was finished, having the mural done makes the whole space complete.

Kriz said, “The mural is the final crown on what we were trying to develop.”

Father Lux said he has already heard positive responses about the mural and hopes that it will encourage the parishioners to continue to improve in their faith lives.

“I hope that the mural will raise our hearts and minds to Jesus and be a source of evangelization,” Deaver said. “Beauty attracts people.”

Now that his work is complete, Gauthier and the members of the parish are sad to have to part ways.

“He’s been very kind and welcoming,” Father Lux said,  “and we’ve really enjoyed having him.”

Deaver noted the impact that Gauthier has had on the parish.

She said, “Corbert has brought such an amazing love of Jesus into the mural. He has such a positive attitude and having him in our parish these past three months has been such a gift. I’m blown away by his work and how much he loves this parish.”

Gauthier enjoyed getting to interact with the school children and said that his favorite part was when their teachers brought them into the church to see his progress.

On Thursday, Dec. 7, the kids had a donut party to celebrate the mural’s completion and gave Gauthier notes and drawings that they had made for him.

“The faith, commitment and energy I witnessed were truly inspirational,” Gauthier said.

Despite the fact that Gauthier is leaving, his art will be a source of joy and beauty for many years to come.

“I don’t think there’s anything comparable to that mural in the entire town of Holdrege,” Deaver said. “That mural belongs to our entire community.”

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