Phoenix's bishops recently blessed the stained glass windows depicting Blessed Junipero Serra and Blessed Fra Angelico during separate Masses within days of each other. The windows illumine the chapel honoring St. John Paul at the Diocesan Pastoral Center (Ambria Hammel/CATHOLIC SUN)
Phoenix’s bishops recently blessed the stained glass windows depicting Blessed Junipero Serra and Blessed Fra Angelico during separate Masses within days of each other. The windows illumine the chapel honoring St. John Paul at the Diocesan Pastoral Center. (Ambria Hammel/CATHOLIC SUN)

Phoenix’s two bishops blessed separate stained glass windows inside the Virginia G. Piper Chapel at the Diocesan Pastoral Center within a week of each other.

The new windows nearly complete the lower level chapel windows that are designated for stained glass.

The entire chapel — including the windows, altar and ambo — honors the memory of St. John Paul II. All 14 windows on the lower level will ultimately depict a saint whose cause for canonization St. John Paul II advanced during his pontificate, reflect the focus of his ministry or they have a connection to the ministry in the Diocese of Phoenix.

Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted dedicated the window honoring Fra Angelico June 26 during a regular noontime Mass offered weekdays for staff and guests. It’s toward the back of the chapel’s south side. Auxiliary Bishop Eduardo A. Nevares followed with a second dedication for the Blessed Junipero Serra window next to the pulpit followed July1.

Blessed Junipero Serra
Blessed Junipero Serra

“It’s beautiful to have him looking over anyone who preaches here at this pulpit because he was a great evangelizer,” Bishop Nevares said.

He delivered his homily on the feast day of Blessed Serra and expressed gratitude for the more than 100 members of three Serra Clubs throughout the diocese. They pray daily for religious vocations and financially support seminarians.

“Never think that your prayer is not needed. Never think that your sacrifices are not needed,” the bishop said.

“We don’t need priests. We need good and holy priests following the example of Junipero Serra,” the bishop said, “those on fire for the love of God and willing to sacrifice himself for the salvation of souls.”

He described this year’s seminarian class, which edged out of the 20s and stands at 32, as quality young men.

Tom Castellanos, district governor for the Serra Club, finds the club’s patron saint to be a solid example of fortitude. He said such a role model is important when working across the Church.

He loves that Serrans will be able to see the window several times a year for club functions. Members gather in the chapel at the Diocesan Pastoral Center for clergy appreciation nights and charter nights.

“To have Blessed Junipero Serra present while we charter new members is a real blessing,” Castellanso said.

He also recognized the importance of the saints depicted in 13 other lower level windows in the chapel. St. John Paul II advanced the cause for canonization for all of them. He beatified Fra Angelico in 1983 and declared him patron of Catholic artists in 1984.

Blessed Fra Angelico
Blessed Fra Angelico

The image of the 15th century Italian painter sits on the chapel’s south side and shows the Dominican friar painting a crucifix. Fra Angelico was a master of frescoes and always depicted something from Scripture, the bishop said.

His parents named him Guido de Pietro, but his life of extraordinary holiness and frequent portrayal of angels in his works led to a different name in death. “Fra Angelico” means the “angelic friar.”

“Fra Angelico’s painting reminds us that we’re always surrounded by the angels. They’re always praying for us, supporting us, protecting us,” Bishop Olmsted said during his homily.

Staff and visitors to the Diocesan Pastoral Center will notice an absence of angels in the window’s depiction, however. That’s to further convey the sense of abandonment Jesus felt on the cross, the bishop explained.

“So deeply was he caught up in the mystery he was painting,” the bishop said, that Fra Angelico wept as he painted scenes of the crucifixion, “And when he painted the Blessed Virgin Mary or the saints, he was raised up with great joy.”

It was a love for the faith, and the local church, especially, that moved Amanda Durand to underwrite the window’s cost. Durand, a Sun City Catholic, didn’t have a particular connection to Fra Angelico, but wanted to do something to honor her family’s Catholic history in the area while also helping finish the chapel.

Her grandparents met at St. Mary’s Catholic school, where the Diocesan Pastoral Center now sits and were married at St. Mary’s Basilica next door. Two other generations of family members, including Durand, said their vows in the same spot.

“I wanted to incorporate my entire family,” Durand said, describing the multiple names listed on the nameplate under the window.

Catholic individuals and groups have sponsored 13 of the 14 windows that will ultimately line the lower walls of the chapel dedicated to St. John Paul II. Only the St. Rose Philippine Duchesne window remains available for sponsorship.

The Catholic Sun correspondent Lindsay Wantland contributed to this story.