WASHINGTON, D.C. – Thirty brand new stained glass windows now adorn the main chapel of the Edwin Cardinal O’Brien Pastoral Center, home base for the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA (AMS). On Friday, Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio blessed the recently-installed windows in a morning prayer service attended by dozens of AMS benefactors, clergy, and staff.
Casting radiant reds, greens, blues, and other hues over the altar and pews, each window depicts an image of particular significance to military Catholics. They include saints with military backgrounds, such as the Centurion, Saint Martin of Tours, Saint Joan of Arc, Saint John Capistrano, Saint Ignatius of Loyola, and Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, in addition to Saints Peter and Paul and the four Evangelists. Also depicted are emblems of the five service branches and the Department of Veterans Affairs, symbols of the seven sacraments and the office of preaching, and the coats of arms of the first Archbishop for the Military Services, USA, the late Most Reverend Joseph T. Ryan, and his current successor, Archbishop Broglio.
In opening remarks, Archbishop Broglio said:
“When the Church blesses stained glass windows, she does so for the following reasons: that when we look at the representations of those who followed Christ faithfully, we will be motivated to seek the city that is to come, that we will learn the way to attain complete union with Christ, that as we struggle along with our earthly cares, we will be mindful of the saints, those friends and co-heirs with Christ who are also our own brothers and sisters and our special benefactors, that we will remember how they love us, are near to us, intercede ceaselessly for us, and are joined to us in communion.”
Mr. Jed A. Boertlein and his son Jacob, owners of the Washington Art Glass Studio of Dunkirk, MD, installed the windows in mid-July, capping a three-year project in which the images were designed from scratch. The glass, imported from Germany, was hand-painted by the Boertleins working together with North Carolina artists Barbara Lynch and her daughter, Karen. Ms. Barbara Lynch died soon after completing her work on the windows, making them the mother-daughter team’s last collaboration.
Generous benefactors foot the bill for the $100,000 set of windows, including: Knights of Columbus Assembly #3218; Knights of Columbus Council #15425; Corporal Theodore Veskosky, USMC (Ret.); Lieutenant Commander Kathleen Marie Bechen, USN (Ret.); Father Kevin Peek (Ch, Maj, Georgia National Guard); Mrs. Mary Peek; the late Father Joseph Peek; Mr. Ned Winsor; Mr. Michael Garcia-Carreras; Mrs. Rose Bernard; Ms. Denise Jordan; Colonel Chuck Gallina, USMC (Ret.); and Lieutenant Colonel William Barkovic, USA (Ret.).
In his homily, based in part on the Gospel reading of Mt 5:1-12a, Archbishop Broglio called to mind how the beatitudes are sometimes referred to as “the Magna Carta of the Kingdom of God”:
“Jesus proclaims blessed those who the world would find unhappy, the poor, the afflicted, the hungry and thirsty for justice, the persecuted. How challenging it is for us that serenity is not found where the world seeks it—in power, pleasure, or wealth—but in our infinite relationship with almighty God, often made more difficult by the unbridled search for what the world deems valuable… Christian joy is not an action, it is a virtue. It is not a product for consumption, but rather something to be given. The saints depicted here knew that, and continue to inspire our response to God’s call. May they teach us to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that we might be filled with the fullness of God.”
Archbishop Broglio expressed his intention that “the images of Saints Peter and Paul, the evangelists, and saints associated with military service serve as a reminder that men and women have responded effectively to divine grace. They have abandoned all to follow him. They have patterned their response on the counsels of the beatitudes.”
After the blessing, Archbishop Broglio hosted a reception for the guests in attendance.