August 12, 2005

St. Thomas Aquinas parish to dedicate
unique Marian shrine

By Mary Ann Wyand

On the vigil of the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Aug. 14, Father William Munshower, pastor of St. Thomas Aquinas Parish, will dedicate a new Marian shrine in front of the contemporary church at 46th and Illinois streets in Indianapolis.

The public is invited to attend the 10:30 a.m. Mass and 11:45 a.m. dedication of the hand-carved cedar “Madonna with Child” sculpture created by St. Thomas Aquinas parishioner Patrick Mack of Indianapolis.

“Rick Turi and other parishioners approached my predecessor, Father Clifford Vogelsang, and the pastoral council about an image of Mary 13 years ago,” Father Munshower said. “It was postponed because of the renovations. … We wanted a unique creation, preferably one done by a local artist, and we knew we needed a universal image, a multicultural image, reflecting the diversity of the Semitic and African peoples.”

Mack based his sculpture of Mary and the Child Jesus on photographs of former St. Thomas Aquinas parishioner Veronica Pemantel, who is from Cape Verde, West Africa, and Indianapolis resident Rita Jackson, who is African-American.

“Our vision is that this image will be seen by people as they come to church and will be a part of the children’s lives as they are playing on the school playground,” Father Munshower said. “I foresee the children coming by the shrine on their way to and from school. I see the children coming by for prayers as they go out on a field trip or an athletic contest in keeping with the shrine tradition of our faith. I hope this becomes an intimate part of our parishioners’ lives, especially our children’s lives.”

The carved laminated Canadian cedar sculpture shows Mary presenting the Child Jesus to the world with his arms extended to people.

Mack said it was humbling to create a religious sculpture of Jesus and his mother. He worked on the one-of-a-kind sculpture for a year.

“Father Munshower said he wanted to show Mary presenting the Christ Child to the world, strong and at the same time accepting that she knows his life is going to be a tough road,” Mack said, “but she is willing to make the sacrifice. And he has his arms out, as if saying ‘Here I am. My love is here for you.’ ” †


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