One look at them takes your breath away. They are the new stained-glass windows in the Marian University’s St. Joseph Chapel attached to Caito-Wagner Hall. The artwork includes six stunning paintings, which depict young saints throughout the world and reflect the same age and diversity of the Marian student body.
“The new windows offer a chance for many to think about what the windows represent, said Adam Setmeyer, vice president of mission and ministry. “The windows of St. Joseph Chapel invite everyone—students, faculty, and staff—to reflect on their journey toward God. I am especially excited that the saints reflect the diversity on our campus and in the Catholic church,” he added.
The Chapel, named for Saint Joseph, the foster father of Jesus and husband of Mary, includes a main piece of stained glass, which arrived months ago and is located in the arched window over the northeast facing doors. In phase two, the stained glass in the windows and doors on the southeast side of the chapel were recently installed and tell an important story for all Christians.
“There is no one way to follow Jesus Christ, and these windows teach and encourage us to use our gifts as his disciples,” Setmeyer added.
While the arched window is inspired by the great Franciscan work, “Journey of the Mind to God,” by Saint Bonaventure, it describes how a university education is a spiritual journey, as he bases this on, among other things, Ephesians 1:15-19 which reads, “I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, and for this reason, I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers.
The five vertical windows on the southeast side of the chapel, depict vibrant paintings of Mary Immaculate and Saint Joseph, Mother Theresa Hackelmeier, Saint Toribio Romo, Saint Martin De Porres, Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, and Saint John Paul II who were young saints from around the world. Setmeyer says it was very important that the windows depict the diversity of Marian University’s student body while encouraging students to explore their stories further.
“The windows also represent the historic areas of ministry of the Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenburg, Indiana, Marian University’s founder, and with the Mother Theresa Hackelmeier window, Setmeyer further explained. “Saint Pope John Paul II represents their ministry to youth; Saint Martin de Porres recognizes their work with African Americans; Saint Kateri Tekekwitha, the first Native American Saint, represents their work with Native Americans and their care for creation; and Saint Toribio Romo represents their work with the Latino community.”
Inspired by its beauty, Archbishop Charles C. Thompson, the seventh archbishop of Indianapolis, blessed the chapel August 6, 2021.
Marian University freshman Briana Black ’24 says she was in awe when she saw the windows. She says it touched her just to look and reflect. “As an African American student, I was really impressed and inspired with the beauty and the detail surrounding the windows, she explained. “I really appreciate the fact that the windows have a diverse theme that everyone can relate to.”
And that’s what Saint Pope John II hoped. In his letter to young people “Christ is Alive!” He wanted the windows to inspire students and others when he said, “The heart of the Church is also full of young saints who devoted their lives to Christ, many of them even to dying a martyr’s death. They were precious reflections of the young Christ; their radiant witness encourages us and awakens us from our lethargy.” These five windows will depict young saints from throughout the world. Their depictions should draw in our college students, of relatively the same age, and encourage them to explore their stories further.
The windows would not have been made possible without the donations of several Marian University donors. Special thanks are in order to Marian University Board Chair Denise Feser ’77, the Board of Trustees and Board Emeriti. They collectively sponsored one of the southeast windows to honor President Daniel J. Elsener and Beth Elsener for their 20 years of Marian University service. Other kind donors include Al Leighton ’62, Tom Mitchel, and the Class of 1971.
Their donations reflect the spirit of Saint Bonaventure who stated, “I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, and for this reason, I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. Because we have been enlightened by faith, the Christians approach to learning is transformed, but without it, we may come to think that mere reading will suffice without fervor, speculation without devotion, investigation without admiration, observation without exultation, industry without piety, knowledge without love, understanding without humility, study without divine grace, the mirror without divinely inspired wisdom.”
It's no doubt the beautiful window additions are better seen than read.