ANTHONY CAPOTE AND CARA LEDWIDGE
STAFF WRITER AND SENIOR WRITER
Manhattan College will soon be the recipient of ten historic stained glass windows that each detail a different story of the life and works of St. John Baptiste De La Salle.
The windows, originally created for St. Joseph Novitiate in Pocantico Hills, N.Y., have changed hands only once since their construction in the early 20th century. In 1930, the novitiate changed location to Barrytown, N.Y. where the windows have spent most of their existence. They will be installed in the Chapel of De La Salle and his Brothers in about one year.
According to the college, the windows were built by Manzuet et fils, a father-son duo, whose stained glass works are featured in many great venues in France including the Notre Dame. Their depictions of the patron saint of educators are considered to be both beautiful and influential.
“We have had several stained glass artisans look at the windows and they have all told us to a person that these are very high quality windows,” Andy Ryan, vice president of facilities, said.
In 1974, the Novitiate was purchased by the Unification Church and while the present owners have kept the Barrytown windows intact since their acquisition. However, according to the Christian Brothers Conference, a La Sallian publication by the Brothers, the Unification Theology Seminary plans to use the space as college for Unitarian theologians.
Because the facility does not need the windows, but the college was interested in their importance to the Christian Brothers and their Catholic faith, they contacted the Christian Brothers regarding the future of the windows.
Manhattan College was then selected by the Signum Fidei Society, a group of laypersons who are dedicated to the advancement of De La Salle Brothers of the Christian Schools, as the new benefactors of the Barrytown windows.
“Manhattan College is the quintessential Lasallian school,” James Casey of the Signum Fidei Society said.
The college is about a year away from seeing the windows in the chapel.
“The target [installation] date is probably in September of 2015,” Ryan said, citing the great deal of work that remains to be done.
“We haven’t started removing the windows from where they are yet,” he said.
Once the windows have been removed from their current location upstate, they will be taken to a stained glass specialist to be re-cut and re-sized to fit the existing space in the chapel.
Ryan said, “they [the windows] are almost 16 feet high by almost six feet wide, so we have to alter the size of the windows.”
Ryan went on to predict “about a six to eight month process” in these repairs before installation can begin.
Manhattan College students should be aware that the installation of the windows will not have a great impact on the daily functions of the chapel.
“We may close off a certain section of the chapel and leave the rest in use,” said Ryan.
However, while life within the chapel should remain normal, Ryan did mention a possible closure of the stairways to the bridge that leads to Draddy Gymnasium, Horan and Lee Hall.
“We will probably lose one of the approaches up to Draddy at a time,” Ryan said. “They won’t be working both sides at the same time. That’s almost a certainty.”
Although the college will be receiving new windows, the Barrytown facility will have their windows replaced by the Christian Brothers. “They have reached an agreement,” Thomas Mauriello, vice president for college advancement, said.
Mauriello expressed his excitement for the Barrytown window project.
“This is the most exciting project of my career,” he said. “For me, the most powerful thing is usually scholarships, but this one impacts faith. It helps all of our students intellectually, philosophically, theologically, and will bring us closer.”
Mauriello also detailed the fundraising process.
“An entire window could be fundraised for $100,000, a half-window could be fundraised for $50,000 and a quarter-window could be sponsored for $25,000,” he said. The fundraising process spanned from May or June until completion in September.
He also said that any donation over $100 would receive a plaque that will be placed within the chapel once the windows are fully installed.
Mauriello goes to many different fundraising events with Manhattan College alumni and said that when he speaks with them about the windows, “Everyone seems really excited,” he said.
Mauriello believes the addition of the windows could improve the chapel for the greater community.
“Many couples choose to get married here,” Mauriello said, and now with the addition of the windows, he said, “They will add so much to the space.”
He said out that with the addition of the student commons, couples will have the opportunity to have their receptions in the commons after their ceremony in the chapel that will be adorned with the new windows.
The windows will affect many members of the college community, particularly chaplain Fr. George Hill, who spends much of his time in the chapel with students throughout the year.
“The room has been used for so many different things, and in some ways it prevents it from becoming a spiritual central space, but with the windows coming in, it will be more conducive for quiet and relaxation,” Hill said.
“We can meditate on them as windows, as in the early Church, people did not read and write and so churches have stations as a catechetical thing,” he said
Hill described the artwork and atmosphere of the chapel as it is now as “a more Congregationalist style church, but now with these images, the windows will add a new dimension to the chapel” that it has not had before.
“The church deserves some new windows,” he said.