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Catholic News Herald

Serving Christ and Connecting Catholics in Western North Carolina

081417 forest cityFOREST CITY — High windows in the narthex of Immaculate Conception Church have recently been replaced with stained glass, and a 20-foot crucifix has been erected on the church grounds – two beautification projects the pastor hopes will inspire everyone who comes into or passes by the Forest City church.

“Originally, I wanted those windows to be clear to allow light into the church so that it would be bright during the day even if the lights went out,” recounts Father Herbert Burke, pastor, “but some problems developed. At certain times of the day, the sun would beam directly into the eyes of the organist in the choir and certain parishioners in the church. So I started developing a plan that would give us a fundraiser that would help pay off the church and windows that would allow a lot of light to pass through, but still function somewhat like sunglasses.”

Statesville Stained Glass Co. was commissioned to craft a simple design by Father Burke meant to complement the larger stained-glass windows already installed in 2012. The 52 new windows feature a Gothic arch design, mirroring the arches found throughout the church, framed in cobalt blue, gold and red. Nameplates for each window were sold or chosen by Father Burke, and include the names of pastors and parishioners, the four bishops of Charlotte, St. John Paul II, Archbishop Fulton Sheen, and the Cornett family, who donated the land for the original parish church.

“So far, everyone who has seen them loves them,” Father Burke said. “I believe they add greatly to the beauty of the church and although I never originally intended them to be there, apparently God had other plans – which are, of course, always better than ours!”

A 20-foot wayside crucifix has also been placed on the church grounds, facing West Main Street, to inspire passersby. The life-sized bronze corpus was custom-made in Italy. The crucifix sits on a new plaza that will soon feature statues of angels, as well as benches for people to sit and pray at the foot of the cross.

Father Burke, who has been planning the project for two years, recently told The Daily Courier, “I prayed a lot about what words to put on it. I finally decided to simply use the words of Jesus, ‘Follow me.’”
— Photos provided by Father Herbert Burke

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