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Sharing Photos of a "Great Celebration" Mass Service; From the Church Furniture Commission Project

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Blog entry by Mark A. DeCou posted 11-10-2007 03:21 AM 8386 reads 0 times favorited 20 comments Add to Favorites Watch

For several months during 2007, I had the privilege of building several pieces of commissioned furniture for the St. Anthony of Padua Roman Catholic Church in Strong City, KS. This church is part of the Wichita, KS Diocese. I finished up all of my work this summer, and have blogged, and added those projects as postings before. At the end of this blog, I will give a summary list of the items if you are interested in seeing the pieces I built.

Also, I wanted to share the photos of the September 30th, 2007 Celebration Mass service for the remodeled building. The Most Reverend Michael Owen Jackels, Bishop of Wichita Diocese (http://www.cdowk.org/bishop.htm) visited for this special service, and provided a message of encouragement to the congregation, and a dedication for all of the hard work, and gifts given to pay for the work.

I have not been to a Roman Catholic Mass since I was in high school visiting Washington D.C.’s National Cathedral during a National 4-H Delegate Conference. I made two of those trips in the early part of the 1980’s, but have only been in Protestant churches since. I did attend a couple of Roman Catholic weddings during that time, but not a Mass service.

So, for the most part, I had no idea what was happening from one step to the next. I did read in the front of the pew book, that non-church members were to abstain from the Communion Ceremony, so we stayed seated and watched and prayed and shared in spirit. We were treated like honored guests, and a place was saved for us toward the front. If you look closely in the photos on the right side of the congregation, second pew from the front, right on the center aisle, you can see my gleaming bald head, almost as white as my dress shirt. I had worn the only blazer I had, but it was a warm day for September, and I got warm quickly, even inside the building where the temperature was perfect.

In my former “life”, I wore a tie almost every work day for 10 years, and a dress shirt, and often a suit. I was used to it then, though I was always a rebel and had the top button of my shirt undone around the office, and the tie a little loose. Unless I was seeing customers, which was my job for 7 of those 10 years, and then I dressed up appropriately. I just never could see the wisdom in making everyone dress up so much to walk around an office looking at each other. I was also a little miffed that I was the only degreed-engineer in the building that didn’t have an office window, something that was a little important to me in those days. The window would have only given me a view of the parking lot, but it was a window, and I didn’t have one, so in passive-aggressive style, I just wore my tie loose. I learned in that process that being a non-conformist in a major corporation results in a “CLM” (career limiting move), but that is another story for another blog.

Anyway that was over 10 years ago, and the old suits I used to wear don’t fit nowadays. They seem to shrink on the hangers in the closet, and I guess it must be the global warming thing, and on that fact I agree with Mr. Gore. I only bought a new suit jacket and a pair of dress pants a few years back after my mother forced me to dress up for my little sister’s wedding, and so I wear the blazer jacket to funerals and weddings, and Fancy Church Ceremonies, like this one. Normally, I wear jeans to our church, almost everyone does.

Back to our story:

The church was full when we arrived 30 minutes early. This was quite a surprise, but since a seat had been saved for us, we went up and sat down. We are late almost anywhere we go, but we were early that day. My wife was pretty upset when we came in and found the place full. Her automatic assumption was that I had misunderstood the start time, which is a fair assumption for a woman that has lived with me now for over 15 years. I don’t do well with administrative type things, like remembering dates and times.

A greeter assured us that we were not late. When we arrived the congregation was all praying together, I believe what they called a Hail Mary prayer. This was interesting to listen to, as we had not ever heard that before.

I have shown photos before of the church, but always when it was empty, and with my own cheap digital camera. I was quite impressed how much better the church looks with it full of people, and with a better quality camera, so I am sharing the photos that Barb Davis and Carol Coirier took that day, and put out on the web to share with all of us.

After the Mass Service, I was asked to take some photos with my furniture pieces, and with Father Nicholas Voelker, and Bishop Michael O. Jackels. Meeting Bishop Jackles was an honor for everyone at the service, and for me especially. Being asked to take photos with him was quite an honor, and I thought the photos came out great.

After the photo session, we all moved to the large multi-purpose Fellowship Building East of the church on the same lot, for a wonderful pot-luck lunch. I can’t think of too many things that could get me to show up to a meeting faster, than to tell me that a church pot-luck meal was scheduled.

The food was great, and we had a chance to mingle some with the congregation. Several folks told me how impressed they were with the furniture pieces, and it was all very encouraging. I can’t tell which was bigger after , my belly, or my head all swollen up with the praise. Bishop Jackels didn’t preach about gluttony, so I was ok this time.

Just before the pot-luck, I was given a wonderful “St. Joseph’s” medallion on a chain. This is a cherished piece of jewelry in my collection of little things I have accumulated over the years, all with a story, and purpose, and a special memory. St. Joseph was the earthly father of Jesus, the man that taught him Woodworking. I appreciated this mediallion gift very much.

Ok, Here are the photos:

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1. Father Nick Voelker and Bishop Jackels before the Service.

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2. Bishop Jackels Preaching.

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3. Bishop Jackel still preaching. His sermon time was only about 10 minutes total, and what he had to say was very encouraging to all of us that worked on the building, and those that are paying for the work. I was thrilled to have someone of his position see my work. I’m used to my own Pastor David going 45-60 minutes in his sermons, so Bishop Jackles seemed to me to be just getting warmed up when he quit. I enjoyed hearing what he had to say, and wished it had been longer. Really.

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4. Bishop Jackels was “preaching to the choir.” Literally, this is the choir in the balcony.


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5. Church Service continued.

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6. Church Service continued.

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7. Church Service continued.

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8. Church Service continued.

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9. Church Service continued.

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10. Church Service continued..

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11. Church Service continued.

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12. Church Service continued.

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13. Preparing for the Holy Communion. This was fascinating to observe. In Protestant churches we do Communion, but view the bread and drink as symbols of Christ’s body and blood. The Roman Catholic church views them as the actual Body and Blood of Christ, so there is a lot more reverence, and care taken with the process, catching every crum, and the Bishop consumes anything left over.

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14. Father Nick and me. (he’s the younger, more handsome one)

Meeting and getting a chance to know Father Nick was a highlight of this commission, ranking right up there with working with Pat Coirier and his wife Carol. Pat is a local remodeling master, and we had fun teasing each other. He even started wearing a “goatee” on his chin after working with me at the church. As if I had something to do with it. ha.

During Feburary, when the completion schedule for the church was in question, and running behind like all construction projects, Father Nick was concerned, and had his staff contact me about how I was doing on my part of the work. I was behind to be honest. Earlier that month, I had gall bladder removal surgery, and at the same time, my daughter Rachel was very ill, and I was sort of depressed. So, with all of that, I fell behind on my work schedule for the church. Father Nick had a right to be worried.

However, I assured the “Staff” that I would get it done in time. I really wasn’t lying, I thought I would make it at that point. However, when his staff told him about my situation, he prayed for us, and especially for little Rachel. He even held a special time at one of his morning Mass Services were the church prayed for Rachel’s health. We don’t go to his church, and he really didn’t know us, but he cared enough about us to pray for us. That was just cool.

A few weeks later, Father Nick saw me again, and his first question was about Rachel’s health, and how my wife and I were handling it all spiritually. I was starting to get a grip on life again, and so I told him about that. I was quite moved by his concern. My wife was also moved by his concern, when I got home that day and told her about it.

As for the schedule, I wasn’t caught up yet. Not only did I have about a month of not working to deal with, but I had come to the sad conclusion that I had underbid the project effort by at least half, and I was starting to realize that I was in trouble with the deadline.

And to make it worse, in my bid proposal, I had promised to donate the building of a “Lectern” if I got the job. Man, why did I say that? So, I stomped around and worried, and prayed. I thought about begging out of the Lectern offer. Then, I thought about making it really simple and quick. But, I just couldn’t do that. I wanted it to be as good as I could make it. I realize that I’m not working just for people, but for the Big Guy upstairs. He knows what is going on in my mind and heart. He knows the compromises that I was considering.

So, I started working much longer hours every day, pulling out of just about anything that would cause me not to work, as I was determined to not cut any corners. Still, I was worried, and I wasn’t sure what to do, especially after all of the promises I had made about getting finished on time.

As it worked out, the construction company doing the main remodeling work was behind on their schedule, so I was saved by that. God works in mysterious ways, someone once said. I don’t feel that it is a mystery to Him, but to us, it feels that way.

Several weeks later, during the onsite restoration work of the the High Altar (the large one in the middle-back) that I did, Father Nick would come through every day and would pray for all of us in the church working. It was very nice, and always brightened up the day. We were all feeling the stress, as I wasn’t the only one behind. He was always encouraging the group of volunteers and paid workers, like myself. He also has a wonderful singing voice, so he sometimes would quietly hum, or sing prayer songs.

Pat Coirier pitched in and helped me with the restoration work on the High Altar, catching me up to the point that I could get back to my shop and work at things there. When Pat first offered to help me, I didn’t really know him. I don’t make it a point to let anyone help me. First off it is a pride thing for me. Second, I wasn’t sure I could trust his level of quality. But as I observed, Pat was good.

As I worked with Pat at the church, I saw that he was a true master craftsman. In fact, I threatened to paint his eyeglasses with Vaseline if didn’t stop walking around finding things to do over again. He is truely a hard worker, and so I conceded to let him help me with the Altar work. He did a great job, and I hate to say it, but I think he did better than I would do. I know for a fact that he did it faster than I would have. So, his help allowed me to get back to the shop and work on the restoration of the Sacrifice Altar, which sits in the front-middle, that is used for the Communion Part of the Mass.

Another time, one night after dark, I sort of snuck in the church (Pat showed me where the key was) to pick up some of my supplies and tools, and I interrupted Father Nick sing-praying through what he called “The Stations” (painted sculptures that hang along the walls on both sides of the church). It was a complete surprise to find him there, as the place was almost completely dark, and I though it was vacant. Father Nick thought he would be able to pray uninterrupted. Still, I was quite uncomfortable interrupting him. I was burning the candle at both ends, and the middle then, working some terribly long days trying to finish things up, without cutting any corners.

That evening, I had taken off work about an hour to run to the city park in Cottonwood Falls for a balloon release in memory of a young boy, Caleb, that had died of cancer a year earlier. Caleb was a sweet kid, and he and his parents joined our church, were he was later baptized, and we got to know him. His loss has been hard on the community, and the balloon release was a great idea that his mother came up with. I didn’t want to miss it, but I was very pressed for time, so I headed back to the church late that evening.

When I interrupted Father Nick by accident, he assured me that it was ok to be there, and that it was ok to interrupt him. But, I quickly cleaned up my stuff and left. He continued his prayers, but did it silently while I was cleaning up. I was impressed by his graciousness that night, and his care to pray while the church members were all home relaxing.

There was one time when Father Nick visited the remodeling work at the church on a Saturday when I was working on the restoration work. In the back room, a volunteer group of men were remodeling it, having a great time teasing and cutting up like Christian men do. I had a lot of fun overhearing what they were joking about, as some of those guys have real funny bones.

During their cutting-up in the back room, Father Nick went into the room and looked around. Father Nick said to the volunteers, “I hope you don’t think I’m checking up on you, I just enjoy seeing the progress.” One of the volunteers replied, “Oh, don’t worry father, we don’t ever pay you no never mind.” And all of the other guys, gave that comment a big laugh.

I overhead this all while I was painting gold trim on the High Altar in the main sanctuary. When Father Nick came through the door into the main room, I could sense that he was a little unsure just how to take that comment from the volunteer. They were just teasing him, right? They were, but I sensed that Father Nick wasn’t for sure. I told him that I sure appreciated his visits, and the prayers he offers for us all working, and his encouragement. He thanked me, and left to do some other errands.

Anytime I was there working on site, visitors would stop by the church to see the progress, and if Father Nick was around, he would drop whatever he was doing to greet them, make them feel welcome, and to show them the work, always introducing them around to the workers, me included.

I enjoy hearing people compliment me, or rather my work, and I can take quite a bit of praise without being embarrased. Not something I’m all that proud of, just a fact. But, Father Nick can pour it on to the point that I get embarrassed. Gotta love a guy like that. He calls me his “Divinci.” Aw, shucks.

I could see that Father Nick is a good ambassador for what the church is accomplishing. I liked him, liked working for him, and I hope to find other times when we can connect again.

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15. Father Nick with Bishop Jackels, and me. I sure didn’t have to worry about being overdressed for this party. Their attire was stunning in quality and appearance. I was quite impressed with the cloth quality and the stitching in Bishop Jackels robe, nothing like I have ever seen before. I looked it over really good, when he had his back turned, of course. I know he has a name for it other than “robe” but I don’t know what that is, and I don’t mean to be disrespectful.


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16. And to the Potluck. What a great end to a great morning with my new friends at the St. Anthony church.

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17. Just me with my Lectern.

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18. Me again, this time with the North-Side Altar.

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19. Me and the Hymn Number Board.

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20. Me and the Processional Cross.

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21. And, me again.

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Here are the posted projects from this Commission:
1) Hymn Number Board: http://lumberjocks.com/projects/2269
2) Speaker’s Lectern: http://lumberjocks.com/projects/1428
3) Processional Cross: http://lumberjocks.com/projects/2019
4) Matching Side Altars: http://lumberjocks.com/projects/2122
5) Restored Sacrifice: Altar: not yet posted
6) Restored High Altar: not yet posted

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Here is a list of the previous Blogs postings from this Commission:
1) http://lumberjocks.com/jocks/decoustudio/blog/1601
2) http://lumberjocks.com/jocks/decoustudio/blog/1535
3) http://lumberjocks.com/jocks/decoustudio/blog/1508
4) http://lumberjocks.com/jocks/decoustudio/blog/1166
5) http://lumberjocks.com/jocks/decoustudio/blog/962
6) http://lumberjocks.com/jocks/decoustudio/blog/370
7) http://lumberjocks.com/jocks/decoustudio/blog/312
8) http://lumberjocks.com/jocks/decoustudio/blog/55
9) http://lumberjocks.com/jocks/decoustudio/blog/11
10) http://lumberjocks.com/jocks/decoustudio/blog/10

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Here is a list of the previous project postings from my other Church Work:
1) Roll Top Electronic Equipment Cabinet: http://lumberjocks.com/projects/34
2) Communion Table: http://lumberjocks.com/projects/42

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thanks for reading along,
Mark DeCou
www.decoustudio.com

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan - www.decoustudio.com



20 comments so far

View Karson's profile

Karson

34876 posts in 3056 days


#1 posted 11-10-2007 03:26 AM

Mark I don’t see any of the pictures. Sorry.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware karson_morrison@bigfoot.com †

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

1992 posts in 3061 days


#2 posted 11-10-2007 03:31 AM

I’m working on it, I’m going back the drawing board.

thanks Karson,

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan - www.decoustudio.com

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

1992 posts in 3061 days


#3 posted 11-10-2007 03:42 AM

I was trying to use my new kodak gallery photo account. I’m headed back to Flickr, should have it fixed in a few hours, I’m using dial-up.

thanks for your patience,

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan - www.decoustudio.com

View Karson's profile

Karson

34876 posts in 3056 days


#4 posted 11-10-2007 04:15 AM

I was going to suggest that you send them to me and I’d upload them.

But, I guess it would take as long to send them to me. LOL

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware karson_morrison@bigfoot.com †

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

1992 posts in 3061 days


#5 posted 11-10-2007 04:28 AM

it’s coming along, just slow tonight. To get a good clear photo, I have to turn my accelerator off, so that adds a bunch of time to everything I do. I have to copy them first down from the shared photo album, then copy them back up to my flickr account, and then, well you know, good way to shoot an evening.

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan - www.decoustudio.com

View Karson's profile

Karson

34876 posts in 3056 days


#6 posted 11-10-2007 04:53 AM

Got up through 12 moving along Mark.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware karson_morrison@bigfoot.com †

View Karson's profile

Karson

34876 posts in 3056 days


#7 posted 11-10-2007 06:35 AM

Great Job Mark. Glad to see them all presented.

A great job and congratulation on the next commission.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware karson_morrison@bigfoot.com †

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 2970 days


#8 posted 11-10-2007 06:48 AM

Just awsome! It sure is great to see the whole project all together and in use. Thanks.

View rookster's profile

rookster

67 posts in 2806 days


#9 posted 11-10-2007 06:51 AM

Wow! what a spectacular set of commissions. Thanks again for sharing this process with us!

-- Rookster, (http://www.robertkarl.org/woodworkingblog/)

View Kaleo's profile

Kaleo

201 posts in 2795 days


#10 posted 11-10-2007 08:55 AM

Marc-

Great story and beautiful work. You are a true craftsmen. When one worries about not enough time to do it properly and right, that’s a good sign.

-- Kaleo , http://www.kalafinefurniture.com

View Betsy's profile

Betsy

2914 posts in 2551 days


#11 posted 11-10-2007 11:42 AM

Absolutely amazing. I’m not sure I could go a month without hearing about your next adventure in life and woodworking. You have an amazing grasp on things and you’re a pretty fine woodworker to boot!

-- Like a bad penny, I keep coming back!

View miles125's profile

miles125

2179 posts in 2661 days


#12 posted 11-10-2007 12:39 PM

All the pieces look great. They were blessed to find a fine woodworker like yourself.

-- "The way to make a small fortune in woodworking- start with a large one"

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

18615 posts in 2816 days


#13 posted 11-10-2007 12:40 PM

a wonderful “end” to this journey. You must feel very proud of your part in the transformation.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (https://www.facebook.com/DebbiePribeleENJOConsultant)

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 2955 days


#14 posted 11-10-2007 02:31 PM

Great!!
A fine ending to a very fine project.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN. http://www.woodcarvingillustrated.com/gallery/member.php?uid=3627&protype=1

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4435 posts in 2618 days


#15 posted 11-10-2007 03:05 PM

Honestly, Mark, I believe these are some of the finest projects on this website. When seen all together they are truly awesome. It is wonderful that they are truly appreciated by the congregation at the church. You are justified in showing pride of accomplishment. You did some spectacular work here. Thanks for sharing the photos with us.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

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