Tuesday, April 25, 2017


Many historical churches have religious symbols throughout their buildings and St. Francis de Sales is no exception!  One of the most prominent symbols in our church is the QUATREFOIL.  Commonly found in gothic architecture, a quatrefoil consists of a symmetrical shape which forms the overall outline of four partially overlapping circles. The word quatrefoil means "four leaves", from Latin quattuor (four), plus folium (leaf). In Christianity, each of the leaves of the quatrefoil are believed to symbolize the four evangelists of the Bible: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. 

All of the original stained glass windows in our church (including the clerestory windows on the ceiling) contain a quatrefoil, usually as an outline containing other symbols.  On the large windows, it's always located on the bottom panel:

 In the Clerestory windows, the quatrefoil extends the to the width of the circle:

We have a few NEW things that contain a quatrefoil, the most prominent one being the symbol on the front of our new altar:

You'll notice that the light fixtures in the ceiling of the chapel and entrance have the quatrefoil shape.  The beautiful new light fixture in the Main Street vestibule has quatrefoils within its design:

The new Sacred Heart window over the altar has some quatrefoils incorporated into the glass:

Since it is easy to divide a quatrefoil into equal portions or into other shapes, it has also come to symbolize harmony, symmetry, and proportion.  In Native American culture, the four leaves of the quatrefoil symbolize the four ends of the earth (much like the points on a compass): North, South, East, and West.  Some say it is an ancient symbol of good luck (of course the Irish already know this as their four leaf clover!). 

So the next time you're at St. Francis de Sales church, take a good look around and savor all of the quatrefoil symbols which have truly stood the test of time.  Can you find any others?

Wednesday, April 19, 2017


One of the most important factors in the design of the new space was to incorporate the past history of our church wherever possible.  We thought you would like to hear about the details!

We tried to repurpose different items to honor their place from the past.  Here are some of the highlights:
1) THE BLACK MARBLE--Installed in the 1950's, the portoro marble is beautiful but the decision was made to remove it to lighten and brighten the sanctuary. We had it cut and fitted to adorn the baptismal font, the ledge of the Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine, the counter of the Welcome Center, and the top of the credence table on the altar.

2)  THE ALTARS--both the altars and the side shrines are the same ones that were there before the renovation (we think they were also installed in the 1950's).  They have new wood facades built around them to create a warmer look.  If you examine them closely, you will see that the marble tops are exposed on all and the black marble of the back altar shows through.
3)  THE HANGING LIGHT FIXTURE--that was in the Main Street vestibule now adorns the sacristy.  It's beautiful!
4)  THE STATIONS--The Stations of the Cross are actually a combination of old and new.  The square part inside the frame is our original hand carved wood station (donated by the Catholic Daughters in the 1950's) but as you might recall they were wood toned (see the photo on the left).  They have been painted and gilded to bring out their beauty by Conrad Schmitt Studio artists.  The frames were made (new) by Gunder Church Furniture in Iowa to give them a more gothic feel and to mimic the very original stations in our church which (according to old photographs) were large oil paintings in frames.

5) THE ST. FRANCIS de SALES STATUE--Originally set in a niche in original altar of our church,  for the past 10 years or so he was in various places.  He was in the garage of the rectory, in a parish office, and spent some time at the entrance of the school.  His fingers were broken and he was missing his quill pen. He has been restored and now has a respectful spot in the entrance to our church, greeting all those who enter.
6) THE ARCH--The original arch that was over the door to the original entrance has been updated and beautiful new doors have been installed beneath it, making it once again the gateway into our church.
7) THE HANGING GOTHIC LIGHTS--While not original, they have been there for a very long time.  They were cleaned, polished, painted, and received new wiring and light bulbs.
8) THE PEWS--We are quite sure that the pews are original (1896).  They were repaired where needed, sanded, stained and re-finished. 
9) THE PRESIDER'S CHAIR--Recently donated by Fr. Tom Fait, we loved the gothic look and not only kept it but used it as a model for some of the woodwork patterns on the reredos and altar.
10) CHILDREN OF THE WORLD MEMORIAL--This was in the back on the east wall but it was hard to see.  It's now on the west wall with new lighting.  We love how it fits in so well by the baptismal font.
11) MARY, JOSEPH, and THE CRUCIFIX--Also installed at the same time as the stations of the cross in the 1950's, these were beautifully hand carved of wood from Austria.  They have been painted as well and re-installed in their rightful spots (Mary and Joseph are coming soon!).
12) THE REREDOS--We had the woodworkers take our old reredos and add on to it with spires, a gothic arch and buttresses to make a new look!  The corpus is the same but it has a new cross.

Many new things have come to SFDS!  Probably the biggest thing is the beautiful new stained glass window of the sacred heart over the altar.  There is a lot of new lighting including 2 chandeliers, the back lighting of the 2 "dark" stained glass windows, new lights in the chapel, entry, breezeway, sacristy, and outside.  There is new directional lighting over the sanctuary and new spotlights over the shrine were installed. Of course the baptismal font is new as well as a lot of the furniture up on the altar.  New arm chairs for the handicapped, new choir chairs, new porcelain tile flooring are all part of the renovation.  There is new carpeting in the sacristy, chapel, and entrances.  There is a now a hearing loop under the tile and the carpet. And of course our beautiful organ is brand new which has a full and amazing sound.  We have a new Divine Mercy framed picture in the chapel and coming soon is a new Our Lady of Guadalupe statue. Our sound system (new in 2016) has been tweaked and adjusted to accommodate the new acoustics of our new space.  More new things to come!
We temporarily have the Our Lady of Guadalupe print in the shrine area while we await the arrival of the new statue from Italy.  We're borrowing the cabinet doors in the welcome center until the ones come in that are the right color. 
Blue seemed to be the natural theme color for our church.  The feeling of the soaring ceiling to the heavens as well as the tranquility of blue in nature made it an obvious choice.

Thank you for all of the support and patience in our new space!  We're still adjusting a few things and appreciate your feedback.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017


It's hard to believe that Easter is here and that we're celebrating Mass in our newly renovated space! So many people have contributed to this effort that we fondly call "Project 2017, Lighting the Way to the Future".  If you're a visitor this weekend, this endeavor has addressed the repair and restoration of our historical church building. While our building was constructed in 1896, this parish was founded in 1842, marking 2017 as our 175th year! This successful venture has been a beautiful example of a parish community working together to make a dream become a reality. Here are some of the groups that made it happen:

The first official meeting of the Project 2017 Renovation Committee was in January, 2016 . Extensive research and careful planning enabled this committee to be the driving force to get this aggressive undertaking completed in just over a year. Led by Bishop Schuerman, the team is comprised of staff and parishioners who have many different skills and talents.  Attention to detail was evident as was a passion for doing things right.  New friendships were formed and this amazing opportunity to work together is something we will never forget.  We are happy to report that not only are we on time...we're also within the budget!!
Left to right:  Matt Huml, Mary Huml, Kathie Murray, Ken Etten, Nick Vorpagel, Katie Alder, Rose Lemke, Fran Zappitelli, Bishop Schuerman, Laura Zappitelli, Michael Deane  Not Pictured: Martha Cucco, Phil Hall, Daryl Braun

To date 448 individuals or companies donated to the capital campaign either monetarily or by giving of their time/talents....and the list is still growing!  Thanks to you, we exceeded all expectations of our fundraising goals. To date we have pledges totaling $2,120,689 and of that $1,149,251 has been collected.  We are carefully following up with those who made a 3 year pledge and we're happy to report that those pledge fulfillments are being received in a timely manner!  We will be creating a beautiful donor wall in the breezeway with plaques to recognize all who have been so supportive of Project 2017.  Thank you for your generosity!

Thank you for your patience while we held Mass in the Parish Hall!  There were many times where there was construction noise or an interruption during the daily routine and you remained cheerful.  We are grateful to all of you who helped move things back and forth, came up with ideas, volunteered your time, and helped the vendors find their way.  We are very appreciative to those of you who have been encouraging and supportive with your words and prayers!

We have been working with many local and national vendors who, as you can see, have all put forth their best efforts to create this beautiful new worship space.  And yes, there were times that we changed things up from the original plan (or asked them to add something else) and they patiently powered through it with us. We feel very blessed to have worked with these companies and individuals (and that list is still growing!).  Thank you!

While we have reached our of goal re-opening the church for Holy Week, 2017, there are still things that are a work in progress.  As of this church bulletin deadline, we were just informed that the side altars were delayed and will be here in about 2 weeks. The stained glass installation for the new doors in the main entrance vestibule was held up but will be completed toward the end of April.  We have a beautiful Our Lady of Guadalupe statue being hand carved in Italy that will be arriving (hopefully)in May. There will be new flooring installed in the lower level of the Parish Center as well as the parish office after school is out for summer vacation.  The donor wall will start going in this summer.  The parking lot will be replaced  in 2018 or possibly sooner. All in all we are very pleased with what has been accomplished and look forward to adding these "finishing touches".

We knew that this construction process would bring out the beautiful character of our church's neo-gothic architecture.  What we didn't expect was the overwhelming enthusiasm that brought out the beautiful spirit of our parish community.  People helped by sweeping floors, hanging "under construction" signs, moving the refrigerator in the sacristy, making cookies, and (true story) re-upholstering over 100 chairs as their donation.  Parishioners held tamale sales, worked at Farm Technology Days, wrote nice comments on our updates, polished candles, cleaned out closets, and moved things on dollies.  Hospitality Sunday was a huge effort held each week to make everyone feel welcome during the transition.  Some donated their time painting or cleaning or carving a new door!  Others helped with mailings, hanging pictures, mopping, photographing, or moving the library to it's beautiful new space.  This has truly been a group effort and we are so grateful to each and every one of you that helped in any way, lighting the way to the future!  THANK YOU!



Monday, April 3, 2017


Honestly, it threw us for a loop. We were pretty far into the design process when we were informed by the Archdiocese that they require a full immersion baptismal font to be built if there are any changes proposed to the current baptismal font.  You might recall that our "old" font was basically a bowl in a stand.  It had served us well but our original plan was to build it out a little and make it look more vintage to fit in with the "new" design of the church.

The reason for having a full immersion font is for the pouring of water over the whole body for adult baptisms.  Of course a Living Waters Font also works well for baby baptisms. The font should be located in a space that is visibly and physically accessible, and should preferably make provisions for flowing water. Typically a full immersion font is at the entrance of the church. We had a lot of dilemmas:  1)  The entrance off of the chapel (where the old font was located) did not have the space  2) There really wasn't room in the back without taking out some pews, and we were committed to increasing rather than decreasing the seating capacity.  3) This new design would require plumbing and some additional electric work to create flowing water   and 4) How do you design this so that little children don't accidentally fall or climb into the water?

After exploring several options, the idea came up to take out the old glass doors in the back of the church.  This really opened up the area and made it possible to place the new font there.  That led to the ability to create new doors under the original entrance arch in the vestibule while at the same time providing the perfect space for our new Our Lady of Guadalupe devotional area.  We have moved the pews all the way to the front and the chairs to the back, allowing for more versatility for families to gather for baby baptisms. Our new Living Waters Baptismal Font is a beautiful design, incorporating intricate wood patterns and pieces of the Portoro marble that once graced the walls of the SFDS sanctuary.  It will have a pretty decorative brass grate to protect kids from accidentally getting into the water. What at first seemed to be a challenge has turned out to be an incredible blessing and one of the main focal points of our beautiful new space!

This year we will have an adult baptism on Holy Saturday so our new Living Waters Baptismal Font will be put to use immediately!  The church will re-open for services on Holy Thursday, April 13.  Won't you consider attending the Triduum this year to help celebrate a beautiful time of the liturgical year in our beautiful new space?
HOLY THURSDAY-April 13, 7:00 p.m. Mass
GOOD FRIDAY-April 14, 1:30 p.m. Service, 5:00 p.m. Living Stations (Spanish) and 7:00 p.m. Service (Spanish)
HOLY SATURDAY-April 15, 8:00 p.m. Easter Vigil

Tuesday, March 28, 2017


There is a lot more natural light in the church now.  The new stained glass window that will be behind the altar is letting in a lot of daylight. The clerestory windows that were cleaned are letting in more sun.  In keeping with our goal of brightening the building, many electrical lighting issues are also being addressed.

The gothic style hanging fixtures in the church have been polished, the interior brackets have been painted, the bulbs have been changed out, and they are now on dimmers to create special lighting for night time services like evening prayer and Holy Saturday.


There is a new fixture over the baptismal font and a beautiful new fixture coming for the entry.  The old fluorescent lighting in the sacristy is being replaced and will be brighter and more energy efficient.  The new Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine will be highlighted with light.

New fixtures with timers have been installed on the exterior that fit in with the scale and architecture of the church.

By now you've probably seen the new ceiling tiles and lighting in the parking lot entrance and chapel.  The new look is cleaner and brighter!

The two "dark" stained glass windows (that are covered by the building) will be illuminated to bring out their beauty.  The altar area is being adjusted with new bulbs and the directional lighting will be adjusted.

Probably the most dramatic change is that the St. Francis de Sales window in the loft is now being back lit at night.  On a timer from sunset to 11 p.m., it's  now visible from Main Street to all who pass by!

The past several days have been marked with tremendous progress.  The stunning new tile floor was completed, the stations of the cross were hung, the new baptismal font was installed, all of the old carpeting was removed, and our beautiful new organ was delivered!  Thank you for your patience during this period of construction.  In just a few short weeks we hope to be finished with the main projects that will enable our parish to light the way to the future!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017


Throughout the planning process of the renovation, we have consistently made an effort to develop beautiful designs while honoring the history of  St. Francis de Sales church.  Two curious items were what looked like the letter "B" above the Mary and Joseph statues on the side altars.  You can see here in this photo that they are some kind of grate with a wire dangling down.  They were really grimy!  Should they stay?  What did they mean?

It was our pastor, Bishop Schuerman, who taught us that those mysterious letters are actually a stylized version of a Marian symbol.   If you look carefully you can trace out the letters M-A-R-I-A.  At some time a clever craftsman created those to cover an air duct while honoring the Blessed Mother!  Here are some other examples of Marian Symbols:

The symbols above our side altars will still be there only they've been cleaned up, painted, and highlighted.   Here is the "after" photo of one of the symbols in our church. You can see now that there was a cross behind the letters that was barely visible in the past!  Just one of the beautiful "new" details in our historical building! 

We're on track to be ready for Holy Week to be celebrated in the main church.  Keep praying that there won't be any last minute obstacles to prevent the re-opening of the church on Holy Thursday!  Things are coming together quickly!  Stay tuned to our blog for frequent updates over the next few weeks.


Sunday, March 12, 2017


Whether you're walking into a home, a store, a restaurant or a church, your first impression sets the tone for your experience.  Another area of concentration of Project 2017 was to examine the entrances to St. Francis de Sales to see where they could be enhanced.

The Highway 50 entrance (which was added on to during the pastorship of Fr. Dave Braun) is  architecturally very pretty.  We have added some new lighting to bring out the beauty!  The entire area has been freshly painted and new flooring is in the works. The original entrance to the church is actually inside the vestibule, marked with the arch that you see in these vintage photos:

The old glass doors that were in the back of the church have been removed and beautiful new wooden doors are being built to go under the arch.  The arch itself is being restored and will be a highlight of that space, welcoming all who enter as it has done for over 100 years!
The chapel entrance off of the parking lot is also getting a makeover.  As you have seen, the wall has been removed that was the library (the library has moved downstairs to a beautiful new space) to create more room.   This will help traffic flow on the weekends and will create a nicer gathering area for funerals and weddings.  We are also building a "Welcome Center" which will have cabinets and large screen TV.  Some of the cabinets will be glass to display historical St. Francis de Sales items in honor of the 175th year of our parish. It's our hope to have upcoming event information to scroll on the television.  In the future we plan to have some of the Masses live streamed on the TV so that it can be a friendly "cry" area for parents of young children.  It will also have a retractable table area for people to sell tickets, scrip, etc. on behalf of our many ministries.  New lighting, ceiling tiles, and flooring are also in the plan.  Our aim is to clear up the clutter that seemed to accumulate in that area.  An added bonus of removing the wall is that this beautiful original stained glass window (moved when the chapel was built) is now visible to all who enter and exit this way.
We are also working on the breezeway area to clean it up.  The floor will be painted with epoxy (as well as the stairs to the basement inside that door) and new lighting is planned.  This area will  become our Donor Wall to recognize all who have given to make Project 2017 a reality.
We're very excited that all of these improvements will help to create a welcoming atmosphere for our already friendly parish!   We're right on schedule with less than a month to go!!