OLMITZ — The majestic presence of the perfectly-crafted stained glass windows at St. Ann’s Catholic Church are best appreciated up close.
When the sunshine strikes the eastern windows in the morning and the western windows in the evening, the brilliance of the light creates visual magic. Each piece of stained glass offers its own unique religious light twice a day.
‘It is absolutely heaven,” said Pam Schneider, a parish member. “The colors are so vibrant that you see something new every time. These colors cannot be duplicated.”
That magic has been dimmed because the 100-year windows have been recently threatened by wood frames and ventilators that are falling apart.
The 4-foot by 14-foot windows were originally shipped from The Munich Studio in Germany to Chicago for placement in Kansas more than 100 years ago. Identical windows are featured in churches at Hoisington, Victoria and Pilsen, the hometown of Father Emil Kapaun, a nominated Saint.
“These are the Cadillac of windows. The west windows take the brunt of the weather and they started rattling in the wind,” said Bob Schneider, St. Ann’s pastoral council president. “They were starting to fall apart. We knew they needed to get fixed.”
St. Ann’s has hired Hoefer Custom Stained Class of South Hutchinson to perform the work.
Scott Hoefer said the windows are dissembled into six sections and the wood seal and ventilators are replaced. Workers carefully removed the windows and replaced the opening with plywood this spring.
Hoefer said once everything is in place, it requires several weeks of craftsmanship to repair the windows. The first window is expected to be replaced next week, with repainted outside frames and protective plate glass that allows for air movement and reinstalled stained glass.
Each window is valued at several thousand dollars.
“It’s difficult to put a value on these stained glass windows, but if you recreated them, it would take thousands of dollars for each window,” Hoefer said. “They are really amazing pieces of architecture.”
Several overhead circle stained glass windows are expected to be repaired next.
St. Ann’s Pastor Anselm Eke said he’s proud of his parishioners for reworking the windows.
“They will take them down and make them stronger,” Eke said. “It’s an amazing job to keep a 100-year building in such good shape.”
Pastor Eke left Nigeria nine years ago to pursue his religious mission. He also serves as pastor at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Hoisington. He previously served as pastor at St. Therese Catholic Church in Orange, Texas.
“A small church is one big family where you greet everybody and everyone gets to know you,” he said. “I enjoy it a lot.”