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Holy Week is one week away, and Palmyra’s St. Joseph Catholic Church is ready to observe it now, having completed an ambitious project to restore the sanctuary’s Stations of the Cross.
The congregation completed a fundraising campaign to restore the statuesque stations, over 75 years old, depicting scenes along the way Jesus took while carrying the cross to the site of his crucifixion.
And the project, taken on by the St. Joseph Parish Altar Society more than a year ago, came to fruition as the stations were removed from the sanctuary, restored off-site and returned March 1, just in time for Ash Wednesday.
“Christ is divine by nature, and we can share in a taste of his divinity by our participation into his experience and a desire to surrender to the exquisite mystery being given us, this grace being made manifest,” said Father Matthew Flatley, pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Palmyra as quoted by Jay Nies in a story on the project recently published in The Catholic Missourian.
The Stations of the Cross were originally donated in 1945 as a gift from the Carroll family (Leo and Joseph) and presented to St. Joseph Catholic Church in memory of their parents, Thomas and Margaret Carroll and Harry Carroll.
The Altar Society, an active group of women in the church who take care of mainly the altar, but have helped with other areas of the church, initiated the restoration project.
Autenrieb Memorials and Statue Restoration in Edwardsville, Ill., was contracted to restore the stations after successfully completing previous projects for the the church, including the nativity pieces used by the church each Christmas.
In 2018, the Altar Society then sought Autenrieb again to repaint three statues within our church, the Joseph statue with the infant Jesus, the Mary statue and the Sacred Heart of Jesus statue.
The project was funded by the Altar Society, with support of the parish through various fundraisers such as the October Soup Day and March Smorgasbord.
Then, in March 2021, the Altar Society again was looking for a project in the church, Farischon Hall or grounds, and it was decided to get an estimate for repair and repainting the fourteen Stations of the Cross.
The proposal came in at $1,000 per station, and the Altar Society decided to fund one station themselves and with the blessing of Father Matt Flatley, Father Jerry Kaimann and the Parish Council, to allow parishioners to “Sponsor a Station” to fund the renovation of a station.
The stations were quickly adopted by parishioners and the last station was saved to allow multiple parishioners to contribute to the project.
In September of last year, the stations were picked up by Autenrieb and taken to Edwardsville for this project with the goal of Ash Wednesday, March 2, as a completion date.
“We cleaned them, and repaired a few broken fingers and gouges in the plaster,” said Brenda Wasser, a third generation church artist, who oversaw the restoration, as quoted in The Catholic Missourian.
“We painted a variety of base-flat color onto each station and used an airbrush to shade the various colors. The details of all the faces are done by hand.”
And, as was hoped, the 14 Stations of the Cross were delivered on March 1, allowing parishioners to see the revamped statues during Ash Wednesday masses.
The stations and their restoration donors are:
Station 1 — Jesus is Condemned to Death, David, Tina and Sarah Baxter in memory of William;
Station 2 — Jesus Laden with the Cross, Chuck and Susan Chambers;
Station 3 — Jesus Falls the First Time, Kerry and Monica Bross Family in memory of Bob Powell;
Station 4 — Jesus Meets His Mother, David and Elizabeth Bradley Family in memory of Lawrence and Mary Schroeder;
Station 5 — Simon Helps Jesus Carry Cross, Mary Miles in memory of David Miles;
Station 6 — Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus, Joe and Terry Barnes;
Station 7 — Jesus Falls the Second Time, Deacon Bob and Lisa Leake;
Station 8 — Jesus Meets the Holy Women, St. Joseph Altar Society;
Station 9 — Jesus Falls the Third Time, John and Carol Weilandich;
Station 10 — Jesus is Stripped of His Garments, Jeff and Kathy Buckman;
Station 11 — Jesus is Nailed to the Cross, Jeff and Amy Massman Family;
Station 12 — Jesus Dies on the Cross, Justin, Janet, Isaac and Noah Krekemeyer;
Station 13 — Jesus is Taken From the Cross, in memory of Harold and Alma Schwartz;
Station 14 — Jesus Placed in the Sepulchre, Mark, Renee, Chase and Ella Goldinger; Father Jerry Kaimann, in memory of Richard and Mildred Moylan; Robert and Doris Wolfmeyer and family; Tim, Andrea, Jacob, and Ryan Barnes; Steve and JoAnne Conoyer, Mike and Tammy Wolfmeyer Family; Dave, Delinda, Derek, Karen, Case, and Cole O’Brien, Kevin and Diane DeHaan Family; Chuck and Jeanne Wigle Family; and M. Jonni Northcraft Creger in memory of her parents, Milton and Madeline Northcraft.