The Assumption Catholic Church parish reached its 100 Year Anniversary during 2013.
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Walking Tour of Assumption Church
The present church was built in 1954 after the original site on Gary Street was abandoned to make way for Interstate 95. The bell tower was added in 1973 as a gift from Casper and Bernadine Fechtel. The present church was renovated starting in 2008 with a new roof and new heating and air-conditioning and was completed in phases by December of 2010. The church is an updated Mission Style design with a long center nave. Near the main entrance to the church on the east (school) side is the Memorial to the Unborn. The outer arch over the front portico is identical to the great arch over the sanctuary and is reminiscent of the mission-style architecture which is so prevalent in our church. Over the new main entry is an arched frieze copy of the Madonna and Child with the Angels by Lunetta Della Robia (1435-1525). To the left of the main entry are the restrooms. Off the lobby is the book/gift store, the “cry” room, the lector and altar server room and choir room.
Upon entry to the main church one immediately looks down a long center aisle, interrupted by a one-ton, hand-carved European style baptismal font. Carved on four of the eight sides are the tetramorphs of the Four Evangelists. These symbols begin with Matthew as the winged human. St. Matthew emphasized the manhood of Christ and his connection to Abraham. The winged lion of St. Mark faces the village of San Marco. Mark’s gospel opens with John the Baptist roaring like a lion in the desert. The winged Ox of St. Luke represents Jesus as the sacrificial servant of the Father. Finally, there is the eagle, of St. John’s Gospel to signify the divine nature of Jesus and the insight of the Fourth Gospel, which, like the eagle, can see details from a distance in time as high above in flight.
The fourteen Stations of the Cross are original to the church and the wooden crosses surrounding them were added in the 2010 renovations. The twelve crosses over the four confessionals represent the twelve apostles, as well as the twelve tribes of Israel.
The windows of the church vary in style a date. The upper windows are a pictorial representation of some of the mysteries of the Rosary. Starting nearest to the Sacred Heart Shrine on the “rectory” side of the church are, (1) Mother and Child, (2) The Annunciation, (3) The Visitation, (4) The Birth of Christ, (5) The Presentation in the Temple (over the entry to the St. Joseph Chapel), (6) The Finding in the Temple, (7) the Agony in the Garden, and (8) The Scourging.
From the choir loft to the (east) “school” side of the church, from the loft going forward: (9) The Crowning with Thorns, (10) The Carrying of the Cross, (11) The Crucifixion, (12) The Resurrection, (13) The Ascension, (14) The Descent of the Holy Spirit, (15) The Assumption, and (16) The Coronation of the Blessed Virgin.
Over the Choir Loft: the left window depicts St. Ann and her daughter, Mary. The right window depicts St. Joachim bringing doves to the temple for Mary’s Presentation. The windows in the landings of the choir stairs represent St. Joseph on the “school” side and the Sacred Heart of Jesus on the “rectory” side.
The reredos, or back altar, rises to the ceiling with a six-foot silver and gold crucifix, flanked by the Alpha and the Omega, symbols of Christ as the beginning (alpha) and the end (omega). Under the wooden baldachin is the centerpiece of the church, the Tabernacle, where the consecrated Hosts are stored and venerated. The Tabernacle is original to the church and was designed for Msgr. Cloonan with four Celtic crosses speaking of the universality of the Eucharist. The entire 800-pound tabernacle is decorated with Irish or Celtic symbols. There is a silver ciborium always used at the Masses which has the same type of symbols engraved on it and is also original to the church. The tabernacle sits on the altar of repose and on the antependium are three silver symbols of the Passion of Christ: the nails, the spear and the crown of thorns.
The two angels in the sanctuary were added at the beginning of the renovations at the request of a donor who often was reminded of the choir of angelic creatures standing around the altar. On the back wall are two quatrefoils to the left and right of the reredos bearing two identical symbols of the Blessed Mother: the lily is used as a symbol of purity, an attribute of the Virgin Mary. The two quatrefoils use the classic lily and the crown motif to represent the holy status of Mary as Mother of God and Queen of Heaven, the essence of Assumption. There are 24 crosses in the sanctuary to symbolize the 24 elders at the Heavenly Liturgy depicted in Revelations 4, 4. (Four are on the Tabernacle, eighteen are on the altar screen and two are on the east and west walls of the sanctuary.)
To the left and right of the sanctuary stand the statues of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Blessed Mother. These nine-foot statues were carved in Italy and placed there during Msgr. Jordan’s time. To the top of the great arch is the symbol of the Blessed Mother, patron of the parish. It essentially is the back of a Miraculous Medal. The underside of the great arch embodies the fleur de leis’ floral ornamental pattern and repeats the lily motif but in a more heraldic monographic design. The border, underside, and quatrefoils were hand-painted by Dolores Dux.
The altar of sacrifice or the forward altar embodies the work of John Sgueglia who carved the Last Supper scene as well as the communion rails. John was a parishioner of Assumption. His work is also displayed in the Adoration Chapel foyer.
The Chapels of Assumption
Assumption has three devotional spaces inside the church and two outside the church. These are set aside for prayer and reflection and for the deepening of the spiritual life of the parish and the local community.
This chapel, at the foot of the bell tower, was first used as a daily Mass chapel for many years. When the parish decided that Perpetual Adoration was to begin in 2004, the chapel was set aside for this purpose. By that time, the numbers attending were too many for the space anyway, so daily Mass moved to the main church. The tower is not original to the church but was built in 1973 as a gift.
A beautiful mosaic of the Assumption of Mary is on the back wall and the Monstrance sits atop a small marble altar. This is a version of Murillo’s painting of the Assumption in small pieces of glass. The Monstrance was placed on a plinth to raise it slightly for adorers. Unintentionally, it placed the exposed Eucharist in a position that lines up with the womb of Mary! Hundreds of people visit this holy place every day around the clock, seven days a week, three hundred and sixty-five days a year!
In the gathering area outside of the Adoration Chapel hangs a wood-carved image of the Nativity by John J. Sgueglia (1908-1969). This carving was discovered in the church storage and was used as the Christmas crib. The Last Supper scene was simply removed from under the altar and this carving was inserted. It fell into disuse when the parish purchased a large Nativity set for the sanctuary. It was placed in the adoration gathering area in 2010 during the final stages of the remodel.
The Chapel of Divine Mercy
In 2009, the parish was given as a memorial, a life-size oil painting of the Image of Divine Mercy. This eight-foot painting was hung in the east rear entry of the church. Formerly, the statue of St. Joseph was in that place. In 2010, adjacent to the painting, a shrine and statue of St. Faustina was added, giving the space an identity as a chapel for prayer and devotion. The statue of St. Faustina is of hand-carved linden wood from Demetz of Val Gardena, Italy.
The Chapel of St. Joseph
In 2010 a gift was given for the construction of a special chapel in honor of St. Joseph. The original shrine of St. Joseph in the rear east entry of the church was rebuilt as the centerpiece of the new chapel, located west of the baptismal font, opposite the east side entry and loggia. The chapel houses several stunning pieces of art, in addition to the wood-carved statue of St. Joseph. In recognition of the fact that the parish straddles two “sainted” neighborhoods of San Marco and St. Nicholas, these saints stand to the left and right of the entry into St. Joseph’s Chapel. To the left is St. Nicholas, Archbishop of Myra, the patron saint of Christmas and of children. The hand-carved statue of the gentle saint was carved by Pima in northern Italy. St. Nicholas attended the Council of Nicea which gave the church its creed.
On the opposite side of the chapel entry is the statue of St. Mark, Evangelist, and Bishop of Alexandria, Egypt. This statue was hand-carved by Demetz in Val Gardena, Italy. The lion at his feet speaks of the opening of Mark’s gospel as the call to holiness by John the Baptist who literally “roars” in the desert for the people to repent of their sins.
The chapel altar was made by Bruce Eaker. The antependium at the face of the altar depicts (from left to right) the Greek Icons of St, Nicholas, the Nativity of the Lord and St. Mark. On the wall of the chapel stands the Ambry which houses the Holy Oils: of the Sick, the Catechumens, and the Sacred Chrism.
To the left and the right of the altar is an expression of the symbols from the life of St. Joseph in glazed tile embedded in two six-foot marble tablets by Dolores Dux. The tablet on the left (from the top downward) is the Star of David since Joseph was of the House of David. The next tablet is the lily. The lily is associated with Joseph through an ancient legend that he was so chosen from among other men by the blossoming of his staff like a lily. Likewise the biblical passage, “The just man shall blossom like the lily” is applied to St. Joseph in the liturgy of his feast day on March 19th. There is such a thing as a “Joseph’s lily” applied to a number of flowers, depending on the region of the world. The next image is the child Jesus in the manger, which Joseph used as a make-shift crib. The last on that side is the carpenter’s square, most commonly applied to Joseph. One the right side, the tools continues with the carpenter’s plane and saw. The next panel down is the two turtle doves that were offered at the presentation of the Lord in the Temple. The next panel features The Happy Death. Joseph is a special protecticed a special devotion to St. Joseph during their lives. There are three reasons why he is associated with a Happy Death: 1. He is the foster-father of the eternal judge who can refuse him no request. 2. The Church calls Joseph the Terror of Demons and Conqueror of Hell. 3. His own death was most beautiful for he died in the arms of Jesus and Mary. It was probably the hand of Jesus who closed the eyes of Joseph upon his death. Finally, the ship or the barque (barchetta) of Peter, is an ancient symbol for the church itself. The church is tossed on a sea of disbelief, worldliness, and persecution but finally reaches safe shores. St. Joseph is the Patron Saint of the Universal Church, the protector of the barque of Peter on the stormy seas.
The windows of the chapel are original to the church. They were moved from two unseen organ sound chamber rooms (and replaced with amber glass) to the chapel so that they can be seen. They are The apparition of Our Lady of Lourdes to the left (facing Atlantic Boulevard) and to the right the apparition of Our Lady of Knock, in County Mayo, Ireland. This window was commissioned by the late Msgr. Cloonan, who was born in Ireland. Msgr. Cloonan never got to see these windows as he died of cancer before they arrived. The saints shown in the window with the Blessed Mother are St. Joseph and St. John the Evangelist and behind was the symbol of the Lamb of God and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. These two windows were viewed by the general public for the first time on December 8th, 2010 – over fifty years since they were placed in an unseen location in the church.
The Rosary Garden of the Holy Family
The centerpiece of this prayer space is the life-sized cast bronze sculpture of the Holy Family entitled Love’s Bond by Canadian sculpture Timothy Schmaltz. This playful image of the child Jesus at the lap of St. Joseph with the Blessed Mother looking over Joseph’s shoulders is a popular gather place for outdoor prayer and reflection. A Rosary is imbedded in the plaza in front of the sculpture with benches on the outside. As one enters the garden there are two memorial cenotaphs of granite. On the outside of the wall opposite the Holy Family – facing the street is a marble statue of Christ as if to beckon visitors as they turn into Kingman Avenue to approach the church.
The Tower Garden
The little prayer ally between the bell tower and the St. Joseph Chapel is called the tower garden. It is an outdoor garden for prayer and reflection. On the outside of the St. Joseph Chapel in an outside niche is the life-size statue of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament. It was a devotion fostered by St. Peter Julian Eymard in France in 1868. He founded the Priests of the Blessed Sacrament. The statue shows the Blessed Virgin holding the child Jesus who is holding a chalice and a Host. This is a fitting statue to remind all that Assumption is a Perpetual Adoration parish!
The Tower Garden’s centerpiece is the scene of the crucifixion of our Blessed Lord. Parishioners may come at any time and reflect on the gift of salvation. In the garden will be biblical plants – plants and flowers mentioned in the scriptures.