Father Bob Stec, pastor of St. Ambrose Parish in Brunswick, told parishioners Stations of the Cross would be a special occasion on March 19, the feast of St. Joseph. Joining him that evening to pray the stations and to dedicate the parish’s newly installed St. Joseph mural was Bishop Edward Malesic. The event was livestreamed by the parish.
“It’s providential that he was available on March 19, St. Joseph’s feast day,” Father Stec said.
Renowned artist Norbert Koehn created the mural, which covers most of a wall in the church. He also created a large statue of the Blessed Mother, the church’s stone altar and the huge wooden crucifix that hangs over the altar and is the church’s focal point.
The mural was completed and installed in December. It is the last major piece of the parish’s $5.6 million, decade-long renovation. The church was rededicated and the new altar was blessed by Bishop Nelson Perez – now Philadelphia archbishop – during a liturgy on Sept. 8, 2019.
The St. Joseph wall sculpture is a set of five stone tablets that depict some of the key moments in the life of the Holy Family: the birth of Jesus, the flight into Egypt, the scene at the temple, St. Joseph and Jesus in his carpenter’s workshop and the Holy Family eating together.
Koehn, who attended, witnessed the blessing of the mural. He also crafted a replica of the parish’s crucifix, with the bishop’s motto – “Serve the Lord with gladness” – inscribed on the back. Father Stec presented the crucifix to the bishop.
Bishop Malesic said he was happy for the opportunity to visit the bustling parish and to pray the stations, one of his favorite Lenten devotions, and an important part of his life for many years.
In honor of St. Joseph, they prayed the stations with St. Joseph, looking at Jesus’ Passion and Crucifixion through his eyes. At the second station, the first narrator said, “A cross is handed to Jesus, and now he will carry it on his shoulders to the top of Calvary. St. Joseph was a carpenter. Some artistic depictions of Jesus in the carpenter’s shop imagine Jesus making a cross out of wood.”
The second narrator noted that the cross in these stations was not made by Jesus, “but is one that he now picks up, accepts and makes his own as he carries it.”
The bishop prayed, “Dear St. Joseph, help me to accept the crosses of life that I am handed.”
The stations continued to look at the Passion and Crucifixion from St. Joseph’ perspective, even though he had died already.
The bishop offered a brief reflection after the stations, noting his 103-year-old father’s name is Joseph. He said it was an honor to walk the stations with St. Joseph.
He also blessed the St. Joseph mural, saying, “Today we praise you for the gifts of the Spirit bestowed upon St. Joseph in whose honor we dedicate this image. May we follow in the footsteps of the Lord, keeping before us the example of St. Joseph and grow to maturity measured not by nature, but by the fullness of Christ.”