I first heard about plans for a new worship space for St. Frances X. Cabrini Catholic Church from Fr. Frank Lopez and parishioners at a liturgical conference in California in 2004. Their vision was finally realized recently when their inspired new church on the hill was dedicated during a glorious Chihuahuan desert sunset.Read more
Architect: Dennis Hyndman, AIA: Hyndman & Hyndman Architecture, Encinitas, CA
Altar: Creation and Resurrection
23.0' w by 16.5' h
Blessed Sacrament Chapel
2 @ 12.5' w by 14.2' h flanked by 2 @ 8.0' w by 12.5' h
Shrine of the Sacred Heart
8.0' w by 9.2' h flanked by 2 @ 4.7' w by 9.2' h
Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine
8.0' w by 9.2' h flanked by 2 @ 4.7' w by 9.2' h
Cupola: Crown of Light
24 @ 3.0' w by 2.8' h
Entrance Rose: Nativity Star & Cross Rose
Narthex to Nave Doors & Descending Dove Rose
23.0' w by 9.5' h; Dove: 5.0' diameter
Interior: 2 @ 6.8' w by 8.6' h; Exterior: 2 @ 4.3' w by by 9.2' h
37.3' w by 8.4' h
I first heard about plans for a new worship space for St. Frances X. Cabrini Catholic Church from Fr. Frank Lopez and parishioners at a liturgical conference in California in 2004. Their vision was finally realized recently when their inspired new church on the hill was dedicated during a glorious Chihuahuan desert sunset.
I also met Dennis Hyndman, AIA (Hyndman & Hyndman Architecture), Encinitas, CA) at the same conference. Little did I know that years later Mother Cabrini’s Building Committee would select Hyndman & Hyndman as Project Architect and ask my studio to create the stained glass. The following is an overview of the stained glass we created together.
A master plan approach to the design of stained glass allowed the Windows for Mother Cabrini to be created as a symphonic whole and integral part of both architecture and liturgy. To date over 60 percent of the Stained Glass Master Plan has been completed and installed. The future stained glass will complete the overall need to mitigate the harsh west Texas sun and create a calm, cool oasis for worship, prayer and contemplation. The architecture orchestrates an uplifting play of light and shadow throughout this sacred space, while the stained glass adds meaningful detail as it tames the intense daylight.
As massive oak entry doors silently close behind, worshippers exchange the outside world’s hustle-and-bustle for the welcoming, quiet place of worship within. Directly above the main entrance, the round Star and Cross Window summarizes Christ’s time on Earth with symbols of his birth and death. The six future Narthex Clerestory Windows, “Creation”, will contain the most deeply saturated color of all the stained glass. The darkened Narthex encourages worshipers to relax into a more receptive, prayerful frame of mind. Lighter, more transparent stained glass in the Narthex-to-Baptistry Doors/Sidelights attract visitors across the Narthex and allows the Narthex to double as Cry Room.
The unifying flowing water motif appearing along the bottom of all floor-level stained glass in the Nave finds its source appropriately at the Baptistry. In arid west Texas water is of heightened significance as a symbol of corporal and spiritual life. As this stylized “water” flows from window to window around the Nave, it recalls the Rio Grande/Río Bravo del Norte and the parish’s commitment and outreach to her neighbors on both sides of the river.
Passing through these doors beneath the Descending Dove Window, worshipers encounter Jordan Wanner’s cast bronze Baptismal Font quietly trickling into Julie Richie & Lynne Chinn’s mosaic-lined pool. And then they look out into the soaring, expansive Nave. Beginning with the Baptistry, each of the Nave’s eight sides includes stained glass emphasizing its function. High above the Nave’s central Altar Table, Cupola Windows add a subtle, warm glow as the Crown of Christ and at night become a shining beacon for miles around.
Directly across the Nave from Narthex and Baptistry, the Altar Window, Creation & Resurrection enframes John Collier’s larger-than-life Crucifix with radiating imagery that spins out into adjacent Nave stained glass. To the right of the Altar Window and through Rick Findora’s Angel Gate, the Reservation Chapel Windows envelop the Tabernacle with a radiance symbolizing the Holy Spirit. As seen from the Nave, this window’s stained glass appears to stream from the Altar Window and up into the Nave Clerestories.
On the Altar Window’s left, the stained glass streams across the lower third of the Choir Window enframing views to the Franklin Mountains and sky. The upward and outward movement that begins in the Altar Window stained glass sweeps across the Choir Window and will flow across the arching Nave Clerestory Windows as they swirl around the octagonal ceiling.
As one’s gaze pans around the Nave, four floor-level Nave Windows will one day add color and intimacy to the Nave by transforming harsh sun into a muted, colorful and meditative glow. As with other floor-level windows encircling the Nave, their stained glass will sweep up into the four Nave Clerestory Windows wafting above. The sacred flowing water motif that pours forth from the Narthex/Baptistry stained glass, continues along the sills of the Nave Windows.
The Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Shrine of the Sacred Heart (and future Mother Cabrini and Pope John Paul II Chapels), are first glimpsed from the Nave, symbolically beckoning worshippers and reminiscent of Our Lady’s sacred roses. Their deep, saturated color also create quiet separation from from streetscape, walkways and parking beyond.
The doors into the two Reconciliation Chapels depicting the Keys to the Kingdom. Their light, transparent tints exceed safe environment guidelines, while subtle mouthblown texture creates a veil of privacy and separation. The stained glass in these chapels’ exterior windows flank the main entrance and greet approaching worshipers with an iconic Cross and Shepherd’s Crozier (Crook).
The new church has been dedicated. With 62 percent of the stained glass now installed, we’ve arrived at a natural pause in stained glass production. This will allow Mother Cabrini Parish to take a well-deserved and collective deep breath while everybody gets to know their wonderful new place of worship. The future stained glass (which includes the Nave Windows, its Clerestory Windows, and two Side Chapels) is east- and west-oriented. This provides a great opportunity to fine-tune glass palettes with deeper color to further tame the relentless El Paso sun.
Materials: Mouthblown European glass, Austrian lead-crystal prisms, lead, solder.