On September 14, the Church celebrates The Exaltation of the Holy Cross. This is not the feast day of our religious community, the Congregation of Holy Cross. Our feast day is the next day, September 15, Our Lady of Sorrows. However, in 2000, I designed nine stained-glass windows at Saint Francis Xavier Church in Burbank, California. The first window, The Cross and Anchor: The Congregation of Holy Cross, was installed and dedicated on Sunday, June 25, 2000. This was the last time our community celebrated the Eucharist before leaving the parish after 46 years. I begin the series of nine windows today as the Church reminds us about the Holy Cross. The text that follows is from a booklet I wrote in 2000 and edited by Jim Fanning.
The cross and anchor, representing the Congregation of Holy Cross, the religious community that helped found the parish, forms the guiding metaphor for all nine windows. The cross becomes the Tree of Life, all connected to vines growing from window to window. The anchor rests in the baptismal waters, which flow from image to image, connecting all Christian life to Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection. Our common baptism guides us through the nine images of sacraments and faith.
Icon: Upper Left: Guided and inspired by the Word of God, the preachers help form the Christian community. Icon: Upper Right: Notice that there are two right hands. One hand represents the divine inspiration of God, while the other hand represents the teaching of the Church, which is passed down through all who lead us in faith. Icon: Lower Left: The celebration of the Eucharist is the living, forming center of the Catholic Church. This chalice and host indicates all the presiders of the Eucharist past, present and future. Icon: Lower Right: 1954, the founding date of St. Francis Xavier Parish by the Congregation of Holy Cross.
Hidden Images: Oral Tradition: Shamrock: Unites us with the Irish Holy Cross priests who were the founders of the parish. The shamrock also symbolizes the University of Notre Dame, the home of the priests who served St. Francis Xavier Parish until June 2000. Trowel: A symbol of the founding fathers, the builders of the parish. In the year 2000, the trowel represents the early stewardship of Rev. William O’Connor, CSC, the second pastor of St. Francis Xavier Parish. Heart: Loving relationships have built the Church. In the year 2000, the heart reflects the warmth of Rev. Michael Couhig, CSC, the pastor who initiated the development process for the windows as a celebration of the Jubilee Year of 2000. Upside Down Bushel Basket: Through the years creativity has led the parish through much change. In the year 2000, the basket reflects the creativity of Rev. Ronald Raab, CSC, who in the late 1990’s preached a homily with a large bushel basket over his head and who designed the concepts of these nine windows.