By Celine Klosterman
OXFORD — During 130-plus years, a stained-glass window showing the Sacred Heart of Jesus traveled from St. Mary Parish’s original church to the wall of a cemetery shed and finally to the parish’s existing church.
The small, refurbished artwork was installed last month in the back of the church after parishioners salvaged it from a shed, where the window had been boarded up.
Father Ed Dunn, parish administrator, recalled seeing the window in the shed at St. Mary Cemetery when he was growing up in Oxford. Years later, someone covered the stained glass with plywood. Rather than let the artifact deteriorate, “I thought we should see if anything could be done with it,” he said.
He made the suggestion to parishioner Carol Tomash, a member of the cemetery committee. Her husband Leo and her brother Mick Stockman volunteered to visit the shed to try to remove the window.
Surrounded by two-by-fours on the inside, the glass was tough to reach, Leo said. “It was two hours before we got it out of there. We were nervous because it was nailed at the sides and the top… we finally got it out without any damage. We were pretty grateful.”
A parishioner later took the window to Artistic Glass in Fairfax for restoration. Owner Robert Fassler said the artwork needed a good cleaning — wasps’ nests had been built on it — but was charming. “The technique and execution were done really well. It’s not your everyday, garden-variety stained glass window. There’s nice glass used in it, and you don’t often see the Sacred Heart so prominent as subject matter.”
Carol suspects the stained glass may be the top portion of a larger window from St. Mary’s original church, built in 1862 and used until the late 1870s.
In the existing church, parishioner Pat Kellenberger installed the window and put rope lighting behind it shortly before Christmas.
“Any direction you come into the church, you see it,” Carol said. “The light shines through the heart; it’s just gorgeous.”