Consecration: Renewal and Restoration 1of3
St John Paul, Świątek Studios, and a New St Casimir’s — May 20, 2021
Buffalo Polonia’s City Churches hold awe-inspiring treasures. Among them are Mazur’s founding of Panna Maria, Texas; Corpus Christi’s restored Rafello Disputa; St Adalbert’s Eagle crowned high altar; and the fire-survived, wood-carved Last Supper at St John Kanty. Risking a particular, yet acquired fondness, St Casimir’s PolAm multiform, spiritual masterpiece is a strong first place competitor.
How is this? Stanley Fronczek and Chester Oakley’s terracotta symbolic-art spirituality merges with Marian Rzeźnik’s Polonian renaissance-recension school of Rafaello Buonarotti (via Gunipro Raggi of Milwaukee and Lackawanna fame), creating WNY’s major triple crown. Original symphonic structure, form, earth and heavenly balancing act, and symbolic visual symphony; boasts of a soul neither dismantled nor adulterated by prior pastors. This makes St Casimir’s not only a privileged sacred space for Mass and devotion (four chapels), but also a developing environment maturing beyond restoration and rising the heights of youthful creativity.
No one knows the mystical power of this marriage of artists better than Henry Świątek of Świątek Studios, Willamsville, NY. Despite a former pastor giving Henry’s the infamous iconoclast tool of riotous deconstruction, the alias yellow paint roller (1970s), Henry’s depth-perception recently rose to the occasion.
The aforementioned chapel’s characteristic, every seventh year, “sky-is-falling” plaster plague provided an opportunity, while both long standing and new St Casimir membership the means. Henry’s years of advice was finally implemented with a fiberglass moisture-shield retardant. Oakley, Fronczek, and Rzeźnik united their skills in the media of wood-carved pews, confessionals, transepts, terracotta lintels and molding to depict the ever-expanding world-wide life of Communion in the Blood of Christ. Świątek inventiveness continued restoring Rzeźnik’s master artistic vision of the universal Church —a global vine.
During their 2015 work on the Family Vine Memorial Chapel and world’s first Shrine to the Domestic Church, Świątek Studios uncovered original stencil work. This past month Henry adapted the symbolic vine (see photo), adding an emblematic Eucharistic Sheaf, source and summit of global unity in Christ. While the artist worked on new stencils, one of St Casimir’s sacristans, Michael Szafrański, discovered what Henry boldly asserted in a text, “To są moje!” (That’s my work!).
Meanwhile the author of this article moaned to yet another St Casimir artist, “Why are there no symbols of St Casimir in this church?” The church boasts of three unique images with the words of the Patron’s favorite hymn, “Daily, Daily Sing to Mary.” But, not one of his symbols in this emblem-encrusted setting.
Two weeks later the Cheektowaga based art teacher, Kathy Sacilowski, presented fresh closeups of St Casimir’s arches: marked with the Patron’s mitered crown, lily, scale of justice, and Cross. Henry not only assured me Kathy was right he added, “My son Brett painted them surrounded with the vine.” More and more divine coincidences surface.
Henry’s recent interpretation of Rzeźnik’s stencil appears in the newly restored Black Madonna Chapel. This chapel honors an authentic oil painting of the crowned Queen of the Bright Mountain (Jasna Góra) of Częstochowa, a personal gift of St John Paul to the people of St Casimir’s. Thanks to Steve Rovner, for marking the image as “Gift of St John Paul” as modern discloses the living dynamism of St Casimir Church.
Last Feb 2, 2020, the eve of the pandemic, in the words of St John Paul’s own, youthful vow, forty people Consecrated themselves to the Black Madonna. This consecration has since brought many graces: from the daily, illumined, 3pm, high-pandemic Thunder Candle home prayer, to the more recent First Saturday Fatima confessions/devotions.
For these reasons, participants renewing their consecration to Mama Mary as well as others are invited to bring their Thunder Candles to the Consecration on Sunday, May 23, 2021 at 10am. The poetic chanted Litany to our Lady will be prayed at 9:40 with Pentecost Mass, personal Consecration, and chapel rededication.
Pentecost is a most appropriate day for this Consecration. For nine days prior, trembling Apostles gathered around Mary, Vessel of the Holy Spirit, with final fruition in the Spirit and birth of the global Church: the universal Eucharistic Vine.
Next Week: A Tribute to Henry and Świątek Studios.
Rev Czeslaw M Krysa, SLD
Rector of The Church of St Casimir, Buffalo, NY