Vol. 4, 2016-2017
Bishop Joseph Strickland, Diocese of Tyler, TX, with members of St. Mary Magdalene Council #14626 and St. Michael the Archangel Assembly #3361
On December 19th the Most Reverend, Joseph Strickland, Bishop of the Diocese of Tyler presided over Evening Prayer that culminated with the blessing of two new statues on the grounds of St. Mary Magdalene Catholic Church in Flint, Texas. One of the statues was a life-size bronze cast of Fr. Michael J. McGivney. A similar statue that is located in Waterbury, CT, where Fr. Michael McGivney founded the Knights of Columbus, inspired the design of the statue.
This third week of Advent was particularly good timing for the blessing of the new statue. The day before, December 18th marked the 10th anniversary of the opening of the cause for Fr. McGivney’s sainthood. Friday, December 22nd, another important day, was the 140th anniversary of Fr. McGivney’s ordination as a priest.
Bishop Strickland prayed that the statue will be a reminder of Fr. McGivney’s work and be an inspiration to all but especially the men of the Knights of Columbus.
In the spring of 2016 Rev. Tim Kelly, then pastor of St. Mary Magdalene and Chaplain of Council #14626, suggested that a statue of Fr. McGivney on the grounds would be a fitting symbol of charity representing the foundations upon which are built the faith community of St. Mary Magdalene as well as the order that his fellow Irishman founded.
The Council approved the project with the expectation that it would possibly take years to raise the money needed. Brother Tim Newton, the council treasurer, suggested an envelope drive for the parish could generate a significant portion of the money. When word got out that the council was raising money for a McGivney statue an anonymous donor came forward with a matching challenge and within a month the money was raised.
The statue is cast in bronze (85% copper, 4.5% tin, 5.0% lead, 5.0% zinc and trace elements) using the lost-wax process. It took roughly 4 months to produce. The first stage of production is the modeling process, where the sculpture creates a full-scale clay model of the statue. Once the model is finished and refined it is used to create the wax model inserts for the bronze casting molds. The statue was manufactured in northern China in Hebei province. This region of China is known for the highly skilled stone and metal craftsmen. It’s one of a few places left on Earth where these trades are learned through apprenticeship and passed down through many generations.
The statue arrived in the summer of 2017 and bids went out for foundations, bricks and landscaping. On September 1, 2017, Fr. James Rowland arrived as new pastor of St. Mary Magdalene and was appointed Chaplin of the council.Fr. Rowland, committed to carry on the charitable works of the parish and council, was excited about having the statue and requested that the knights have the statue in place and all work done by Christmas.
The foundation for the statue was bricked to match the arches of the existing buildings. There are plans for the four sides of the base to have plaques made to highlight Fr. McGivney’s work, especially with widows and orphans. Brother Lee Peltier, chairman of the statue committee, ran a well-organized project which included cleaning up the area around the pump house through the removal of bricks and pulling overgrown weeds that had become small trees. Brother Peltier organized multiple gatherings of knights and parishioners, found equipment to ease the workload and the expense of the project which was completed the first week of December.
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