Wednesday, October 18, 2017


You might notice that there is a new wooden sign on the brick wall as you come into the chapel entrance.

The Lake Geneva Historic Preservation Commission presented this plaque to our parish at a dedication ceremony on September 20 in honor of the church's 175th anniversary. Parishioner Ken Etten, who is the chairman of the Lake Geneva Historic Preservation Commission, worked with our 175th Anniversary Chairpersons Millie McCormick and Geri Braun to create this beautiful commemorative plaque. It gives a snapshot of our past to mark this special time in history. (If you haven't yet picked up a copy of our commemorative book with detailed history, there are still a few left in the parish office.)
Ken Etten, Millie McCormick, Alderman Bob Kordus at the Dedication Ceremony

Also recently hung in the chapel entrance is this Papal Blessing from Pope Francis.
Fr. John Baumgardner took on this mission for us and went to the Vatican office in Rome to arrange for a Apostolic blessing from the Holy Father for our Pastor and Parishioners on the occasion of the 175th anniversary. He carried it back with him from Rome just in time for our Anniversary celebration at Geneva National!
Thank you to all who have helped to mark this very unique time in the history of St. Francis de Sales Parish! We hope that these "signs of the time" will help to remind us all of the founders, priests, staff, and parishioners who have formed this wonderful parish community over the past 175 years.... "lighing the way to the future"!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017


We've written about the St. Francis de Sales plaster will remember that he was in the garage for a while and in staff office for several years.  Most recently he was at the school on the stair landing.  We were excited to see that he was originally in a niche over the altar in a photo from the around 1958. (marked here by the red arrow)

We had him touched up a bit and he now graces the entrance of the church in front of the historical arch over the original doorway of our church.

But this story is about the OTHER St. Francis de Sales statue.  He is made of fiberglass. He's had a checkered past, once stolen by an overzealous group from a bachelor party who were vacationing at the hotel across the street.  He was damaged in that incident and the bachelor group paid for a new one to be ordered.  He used to be just to the right of the sign by the front entrance, remember?

That one came in and was also placed outside in front of the church property.  This new one turned out to be defective and didn't hold up in the elements.  It was under warranty so another replacement was ordered.  It took a very long time for that one to come in and was finally delivered in July. Because the plaster SFDS Statue is now just inside this door, we thought it would be fitting for our "new" fiberglass statue to go to the school.  He was a little scary looking though!

Principal Gallagher came up with the idea to ask school parent (and art teacher) Marcie Fain to paint the fiberglass statue.  Marcie readily agreed and painted over the summer.  She donated her time and talent to this project and we are so grateful!  He is  now on the stairway at the school, greeting the St. Francis de Sales school kids every day with a warm welcome!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017


It's hard to picture now but our "old" Stations of the Cross were square panels of tone on tone wood. We sent them over to Conrad Schmitt Studios last December to be painted and gilded (and later put in frames). Before they left our building they were photographed and canvas prints were made.  We used those photo panels on the walls of the parish center while we held Mass there during the renovation.  They were beautifully done and many of you remarked that you could hardly tell that they were reproductions. Remember this?

It was the intention to donate this group of Stations of the Cross to a church or organization that could use them.  Fr. Beda, who has come to speak at SFDS for the past few years about his missionary work in Tanzania, was contacted.  He is in the process of building a new church and catechesis center in the village of Ngujni. Named St. John the Baptist, it has recently opened but is still getting some finishing touches (see photos below).  When asked if they needed Stations of the Cross for their new church, Fr. Beda enthusiastically said "YES!".  But how to get them there??

Parishioner Amy Amann stepped up and offered to work with her company, SPX FLOW in Delavan, to pack and ship these items (as well as some holy water fonts) to Fr. Beda's new church.  They have very generously donated the shipping costs to Africa.  Their employees helped to get them boxed and ready for shipping.  Our package traveled through Germany and then Dubai, and arrived at Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, on Tuesday, September 5! Thank you to Amy, SPX FLOW, and all who made this possible.  The church will officially open for Masses on Nov. 3 and Molly Druffner promises to send photos of the installed Stations!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017


The Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe is the only apparition where Our Lady left an actual picture of herself. All other apparitions were drawn from the description given to them from the visionary.   The colors, lines, stars, designs, rays, moon, all have special meanings!

SUN’S RAYS: The rays give the sacred image an aura of light. They appear as though they are emitted from her, based on the direction of the arrows and the wavy pattern – indicating that she’s giving birth to the sun. Since the Aztecs worshiped the sun as the god that gives them life, the image portrays the Virgin Mary as giving birth to god.

HER FACE: Our Blessed Mother’s face is bowed down, looking at everyone tenderly and with compassion. She is gazing slightly to one side as a sign of reverence and respect as native Indians considered it improper to look directly at anyone’s face

HER HANDS: joined in prayer, therefore not a goddess; there is someone greater than Her.

HER MANTLE: Her beautiful turquoise mantle covers her whole body from her head down to her feet and is edged in gold, representing heaven. The indigenous people considered her an Empress since only their Emperor wore this color. Her mantle is covered with 46 eight-pointed stars which are believed to be the stars that were in the heavens during the winter solstice of 1531.

THE ANGEL:The angel supporting the Lady testifies to her royalty. To the Meso-American Indians only kings, queens and other dignitaries would be carried on the shoulders of someone. The angel is transporting the Lady to the people as a sign that a new age has come.

Our Lady is stepping on the moon to show the Aztecs that she's greater than their moon god. With her feet resting on a new moon crescent, we are reminded of her Immaculate Conception, a Catholic dogma that the Blessed Virgin Mary was conceived without the stain of original sin which everyone else is born with.

This signifies that she is a noblewoman with child – noble indigenous women tied a black ribbon just above their waist to show they were pregnant. This symbol, together with the symbolism of Our Lady’s hair, confirms her message to St Juan Diego – ‘I am the Always Holy Virgin Mary, Mother of the true God .

Our Lady of Guadalupe, mystical rose, intercede for the Church, protect the Holy Father, help all who invoke you in their necessities. Since you are the ever Virgin Mary and Mother of the true God, obtain for us from your most holy Son the Grace of a firm faith and sure hope amid the bitterness of life, as well as an ardent love and the precious gift of final perseverance. Amen

Wednesday, July 19, 2017


Our Lady of Guadalupe, also known as the Virgin of Guadalupe, is a Roman Catholic title of the Blessed Virgin Mary associated with a venerated image enshrined within the Minor Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City. It is hardly a coincidence that in 1945, the year that World War II ended, Pope Pius XII looked at the suffering, fragmented world and declared Our Lady of Guadalupe patroness of the Americas.--Wikipedia
If you get a chance, take a minute to look up the story of Juan Diego and Our Lady of Guadalupe on the internet. You'll be inspired!

Our Lady of Guadalupe has always been an important part of the customs and celebrations of the St. Francis de Sales Hispanic community, especially on her feast day which is December 12.
It seemed most appropriate to honor Our Lady of Guadalupe within our new devotional area.  Kathie Murray took the lead on this and worked with many people from the Hispanic community to get it just right. Our statue was custom ordered from Italy and hand carved of wood.  It was delivered as bare wood and needed to be painted.  We hired Conrad Schmitt studios and David, one of our favorite artists, to do the work.

Kathie offered several meetings with the Hispanic group to review what was important with the design of the area so that it would match their traditions. She then organized a group to "visit" the statue in Milwaukee at the studio.  The group had input into the colors and design of statue which is rich in symbolism.  There will be more details on this in our next blog, but even the colors are significant so we had several "consultants" from the Hispanic group who helped to ensure that the statue would be exactly right. 
We are very happy to have worked collaboratively with our Hispanic friends on Project 2017  to help to honor their religious history as well as to enrich our knowledge. More about "Our Lady" and her symbols will be coming soon in our next blog!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017


Early on in the renovation process, a sub team from the Project 2017 committee decided to research other restorations by actually going to visit other churches.   Why?  We had 3 presentations from 3 different design firms and needed to make a decision.  They were checking quality, form, materials and talking to the pastors that had worked with the different vendors.  It was also a great opportunity to gather ideas for our own project.  We knew this would be valuable research, but to our surprise a few extra things came out of this adventure!

One we called the "Fennimore Coincidence".  Katie Alder came across a church located in Fennimore, Wisconsin while doing internet research that had strikingly similar architecture to St. Francis de Sales.  Called St. Mary's, the renovation there was completed in 2013 by Conrad Schmitt Studios and it was really interesting to see some of the things that they had done. Because it was a recent renovation, the people that were involved were still there and were able to tell our group what worked and what didn't work.  Our team traveled up there (a 2.5 hour drive!) and talked to the staff and volunteers involved in the project.  They told of their experiences with the design work and material choices.
No this is not SFDS but St. Mary's in Fennimore, Wisconsin!

Needless to say, it was really exciting to actually see a similar renovation and not just a rendering on a piece of paper.  We were very encouraged at that point that our project could actually happen and that it would be stunning.  It really helped to validate and solidify our vision.  This was a turning point for our group and we took it as a sign that we were definitely on the right track!

St. Peter's in Volo, St. Patrick's in McHenry, St. Hyacinth in Chicago, St. Gregory the Great in Chicago, St. Raphael the Archangel in Antioch, and St. Josephat in Milwaukee were just some of the other churches that this group took the time to visit.  

The other major thing that came out of these "field trips" was the realization that many churches had a quiet devotional area where people could go to pray.  This was on our "wish" list, and when we decided to take out the glass doors to open up the back of the church, a new space for a shrine became apparent. But that's another chapter!  Check our next blog for the story of our beautiful "Our Lady of Guadalupe" shrine.

It's been said before but it's worth repeating to again say that this could not have happened so efficiently and beautifully without the passion, dedication, and talent of the Project 2017 committee! Thank you!

Friday, June 30, 2017


One of the most dramatic changes in the church was the painting of the walls and ceiling.  Conrad Schmitt Studios did an amazing job of creating a new color palette and custom stencils to highlight the beautiful Gothic architecture of the church. 

Other areas needed to be painted as well.  The entrance off of Highway 50 and the area by the new baptismal font needed to be painted because of the new construction.  Some areas hadn’t been painted in very long time….the sacristy not only needed painting but lots of plaster and wall repair.  Parishioner Matt Huml, along with his partner Antonio, completed this work for us.  This past week they also painted the parish center (lots of wear and tear was fixed and patched) and gave the parish offices a fresh new look as well. Volunteer Madeleine Engerman painted the ceiling in the breezeway, and our maintenance staff painted the walls of the parish library (downstairs). Parishioner Chris Weber stained the concrete in the breezeway to give it a clean, new look. The stucco by the parking lot entrance was fixed and painted.  Everything looks so nice!

You will also notice that in that past few weeks that new flooring was put into all of the offices and meeting rooms of the parish center.  New carpet squares were placed in all except for the Jonah Room (which doubles as the art classroom for our parish school) where a new vinyl floor was installed. Check it out!

Thanks to our vendors and volunteers for all of your work!