By Sharon Sheridan
COVID-19 temporarily derailed a scheduled Stations of the Cross installation at a new Episcopal chapel in New Jersey. But thanks to technology, Episcopalians throughout the Diocese of Newark have had an opportunity to view and pray with the images throughout Lent.
Sister Gerardine Mueller, a Roman Catholic Dominican nun, created the traditional 14 stations in painted stained glass. The glass panels hang in the chapel at the Caldwell Dominican house in Caldwell, N.J., where Pat Vine saw them while visiting her spiritual director, Sister Gail De Maria.
“I was really impressed,” said Vine, parish administrator and long-time member of St. Michael’s Episcopal Church in Wayne.
Her spiritual director, who belongs to the Roman Catholic order of Saint Joseph of Peace, photographed the stations and installed the pictures in glass frames lit from behind in a hallway at her motherhouse in Englewood Cliffs. When a fire and lengthy restoration at the house forced the stations’ removal, the photographer offered them to Vine for installation in a chapel being created at St. Michael’s. There, they nearly ended up under wraps again, thanks to the COVID-19 shutdown.
“All these framed pictures were sitting in a bag in the soon-to-be chapel,” Vine said. “I ended up one day thinking, ‘Lord, I really want to do something for Lent. What can I do?’ And the stations came to mind. So I brought them home, took them out of the frames, scanned them and then made up the stations.”
With Mueller’s blessing, Vine created a short e-mail for each station pairing a photograph with a prayer and text by Rina Ristano, FSP, from “The Folly of God: The Journey of the Cross, A Path to Light.” Every three days throughout Lent, Vine has sent one to members of St. Michael’s, an interested neighbor and a number of other individuals throughout the diocese.
Response has been positive, she said. “One priest responded and said, ‘May I have your permission to send this to my parish?’” She agreed, believing that “the more that would reflect on Christ’s sufferings during Lent, the better.”
Another priest wrote about how touched she was by the prayer for the Sixth Station, where a woman wipes the face of Jesus:
Lord, help us to recognize you in
the hidden corners of our world.
In the forgotten ones, in those who
mean too little to the world, whose
presence is never greeted with a smile.
We ask that we might reflect your love
for all people in everything that we do.
Mueller, now nearly 100 years old, has created art in various media and started and taught in the art department at Caldwell University. An interview with her and photographs of the stations and her other artwork can be viewed here: https://youtu.be/XCizxL2eeJ8
The Rev. Sharon Sheridan Hausman is a priest in the Diocese of Newark.