Sunday, July 12, 2009

" . . . Comin' for to carry me home . . . "

When the angels come to greet me (God willing!), I hope they look like the angels I've come to know and love. I hope they look like the angels that came to greet St. Francis Xavier as depicted in the large central medallion above the main altar in the Church-our spiritual home. William Lamprecht, the artist, created all the lush artwork in the magnificent Church of St. Francis Xavier; quite notably visible in the 14 medallions painted on the ceiling (each depicting a cherub holding a snow white banner telling of St. Francis Xavier's virtues), and the magnetic and stunning "Apotheosis of St. Francis Xavier" medallion.

Yet my recent hoping came not while gazing in church, but while meditating in the high school gym - our temporary spiritual home. The "Apotheosis of Xavier" is the main focus of the banners that were put up near the make shift altar.

The banners are there to remind us that we are having Mass in the gym because of an $11.5M renovation and restoration under way in the church. While focusing on the medallion I began to notice details that I had not seen before.

Many of the rich architectural details of the Church, built by the famous architect Patrick C. Keely, have been obscured by decades of fundamental neglect. The Church has not been painted in more than 70 years and just recently the exterior of the Church was "sealed" to allow the interior renovation and restoration to move forward. Years of candle smoke and incense alone have muted the grandeur of the space and nearly 130 years of standing in one place can take a toll on anything!

Fortunately, we are moving forward in renewal, renovation and restoration. Steps are being taken to ensure the glory and grandeur of our home is not lost and forgotten, but lives on for future generations. The rich history and heritage of the Xavier community began with Father John Larkin, S.J. Many know the story of Larkin making the full day's journey from Fordham to Manhattan to found the Xavier community in 1847 - with just fifty cents in his pocket. Today, his perseverance and courage have given us a thriving, dynamic, welcoming and distinguished community. It seems there are still deep veins of Xavier blood that run through us all. Once a parishioner at Xavier, always a parishioner. Whoever you are the sense of community is undeniable.

As I continued to muse on the details of the central medallion, listening to the strong, proud voices of my fellow parishioners lovingly belting out the last song of Mass I couldn't help but be incredibly grateful of where I was, who I am becoming, and what I have found in Xavier.

It was then that it hit me — how fortunate to call Xavier my home.

Since Xavier himself is the reason for both school and church, it is fitting then that it was the "Apotheosis of St. Francis Xavier" that I focused on while in the high school gym for Mass . . . for it is that same medallion, which the high school (through the generosity of Father Daniel Gatti, S.J. and the Board of Trustees of the High School) is helping to restore.

How many times has an angel been there for you? Perhaps that is how you ended up here at Xavier -- an angel invited you. Now, it is time to help restore an angel or another favorite part of the church.

Participate in our Renovation and Restoration - pledge now.

"A band of angels comin' after me
Comin' for to carry me home."

I'll see you at Xavier (home)!

Patrick Brewis
Director, Capital Campaign
"Labors of Love Attract Community"

Share your special memories of the Church of St. Francis Xavier with us! Participate in this historic opportunity of renewing, renovating and restoring the Church! Contact Patrick Brewis, Capital Campaign Director at (212) 627-2100 ext. 206, or visit our web site at Naming opportunities are still available.