Antique stained glass window installed at SJU

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December 13, 2013

By Tommy Benson ‘17

Abbot John Klassen (from left) Mary Mich Rood, Joan Mich Criswell and President Michael Hemesath at the blessing.

The "cold hall" in the SJU Quadrangle got a little warmer on Dec. 5, with the installation of an 80-plus-year-old stained glass window. 

The window was donated almost a century ago to the Church of Saint Theresia in Donnelly, Minn., by Alphonse Mich Sr., a graduate of Saint John's Class of 1911. 

The majority of the glass came from the Kokomo Opalescent Glass Company of Kokomo, Ind.  This company supplied glass to Louis Tiffany and also to many U.S. cathedrals. When the church was decommissioned in 2000, the window was repurchased by Mich's two daughters, Mary Mich Rood and Joan Mich Criswell. They have donated the window to Saint John's in their father's memory.  

With financial help from Paul Krump '82, a grandson of Mich, the window underwent a detailed refurbishing process. Renovation of the glass panes was done by SJU alumnus Gary Terhaar '67 at the Terhaar Stained Glass Studio in Cold Spring, Minn. 

An oak frame was constructed under the direction of lead carpenter Michael Roske '77 at the Abbey Woodworking Shop. This was a challenging task as the finished product weighed over 200 pounds.  A light box designed by Br. David Paul Lange, CSB/SJU associate professor of art, gives the window a charming glow.  

Jim Dwyer '75, director of planned giving, and John Taylor '58, senior associate in SJU Institutional Advancement, facilitated the overall project. Taylor mentioned that members of the Saint John's Campus Planning and Design Committee voiced concern about how difficult it would be to change the light box on this massive structure once one burned out.  They were reassured that they would be long dead before any bulb needed to be changed, due to diode lights' incredible lifespan. 

After careful deliberation, the committee decided that the window would hang in the "cold hall," overlooking the beautiful Monastic Courtyard in the Quadrangle.  The window was installed there by the head of the installation team, Gary Jorgenson, and was blessed by Abbot John Klassen '71 in the presence of Mich family members, as well as SJU President Michael Hemesath '81. 

After passing through the hands of craftsmen and designers, many of whom are Johnnies, the window now illuminates its new home with pristine reds, yellows, blues and greens, adding a warm welcome to the "cold hall."