Wednesday, November 30, 2005

"Master, where dwellest thou?"

"Come and see."

For over a quarter century, the mural entitled "The Call of Andrew" graced the wall behind the main altar at the parish where I grew up*, which was named for that saint, whose feast day is today. It depicted the Apostle known by the Greeks as "The First-Called," at the moment when he was.

The face of Andrew on that mural was none other than that of the late Father Andrew Creager, who was pastor in the early 20th century, and the longest-serving on record. It was he who commissioned the building of the church where I worshipped as a boy, and his priestly vocation which was commemorated, when the church had undergone renovation in the late-1960s.

Sadly, another renovation in recent years caused them to cover up the mural with drywall, leaving only a blank surface. Despite the premise that it would never be used any other way, out of some respect for the original benefactor of the mural, a large crucifix now hangs there. While I would normally consider this decision to be most fitting, I miss that image I knew growing up. Yes, it was admittedly... well, less than haute couture. Still, this did not take away from its significance, or its own kind of beauty.

But its suppression is what happens when a parish is taken over by people who know better what is good for everybody else -- just ask them -- and a sad commentary on the modern breakdown of parish life (the subject of a future posting now in the works). Besides, I'm told the archbishop never cared for it much, so... there's the "empowerment of the laity" for you, eh?

Andrew is my father's middle name. He received it in honor of his paternal grandfather, Andre Alexandre, who with his wife Marie, came here from France in the 1840s, and after arriving in Cleveland, Ohio, worked the railroads, until he settled in the western part of the state, where his descendants scattered over Darke and Shelby Counties -- a land known for its many beautiful Catholic parish churches marking the various small towns.

Father "Don Jim" Tucker remembers St Andrew today, with the text of a past homily. The 1917 Catholic Encyclopedia also has an appropriate entry.


* For what it's worth, I'm the third kid from the right.


MrsDarwin said...

Behind the altar of St. Peter's in Steubenville, OH, there's a huge mural of Peter receiving the keys to the kingdom. A prominent part of the mural is the figure of the Pope. I'm told that the face is repainted every time a new pope is elected, and it's not hard to believe. There's absolutely no artistic merit to the painting at all, but you HAVE to look at it. It's like those pictures of the Sacred Heart with the eyes that follow you around the room. Freaky, but oddly captivating.

David L Alexander said...

Mrs D:

Oh, I've been there alright. Whoever the bozo is that painted it has no understanding of the human anatomy. None whatsoever! The mural at St A's has it licked hands down.

Steubenville is still under the influence of charismatics. That's something they have to deal with sooner or later.


MrsDarwin said...

The mass at St. Peter's (the parish church in downtown Steubenville) was actually very lovely. (We attended mass there of Sundays instead of on campus, for we are no lovers of charismatic liturgies). The choir was sub-par, though the music they selected was very traditional and the organist gave a full-out all stops pulled out recessional that left you exhilarated after mass. But the mural was ugly -- an example of bad pre-Vatican II art.

Steubenville is indeed too charismatic, and it seems that in reaction a number of students (perhaps in adolescent rebellion?) revert to Rad-Trad tendencies. But it has many good points too, and I'm glad I attended because I met my husband there (though I'm still in the hole to the tune of $20,000 -- he took me "for poorer"!).

Anonymous said...

A personal anecdote from a lifelong parishioner of St. Peter's Parish in steubenville.

The mural at St Peter's Church depicting Christ with JPII and St. Peter was not intended principally as an artistic work. It was painted as a political statement under the direction of the pastor. The parish has been blessed by a succession of excellent orthodox pastors going back over 100 years. It boldy proclaimed where the pastor and the people of the parish stood with respect to church authority. Rumor has it that it really upset some local chancery-o-crats who were not fans of JPII.

Everyone knew it was ugly from the day it was unveiled, but the point of the mural was the message.

There has never been another pope other than JPII depicted on the mural.

If I remember correctly the mural went in in the mid 80's. Quite foresighted really.

It might be known as the first church in christendom with a devotional painting of St. John Paul the