The parish of Holy Ghost, Exmouth will be celebrating the centenary of its church on May 6th. 2015. The Parish Priest, Fr Philip Austen, with the support of the Parish Finance Committee, decided that a significant addition to the church should be made in thanksgiving and as a legacy for the generations to come.
There being little reference to the Holy Spirit in the artwork of the church, a new stained glass window was commissioned to fill the three lancets at the west end which front on to the entrance.
Four artists were offered the brief to depict the light, vitality and power of the Holy Spirit pervading the lives of God’s people. It was considered that Stuart Low’s design had so well captured the concept that he was offered the commission late in 2013.
Towards the top of the central lancet a disc of white glass depicts the heart of the love of God from which radiates the rays of the Holy Spirit in pale yellows, beige, golds and oranges. The scriptural personification of the descent of the Spirit at Pentecost as flames of fire is related in the transition from oranges to reds until touching the blues of the waters of Creation – the Spirit of God hovered over the waters (Genesis 1) at the base of the window.
The Centenary window was dedicated at the Vigil Mass of Pentecost, Saturday June 7th. 2014. In the homily Fr Philip said,
“As a lasting remembrance of this Centenary Year, by the generosity of so many of the parishioners and the inspirational skill of the artist, we have enriched this ‘house of prayer’ we have inherited from our predecessors. I am so grateful to everyone who has made this possible and especially to Stuart Low for giving us such a powerful, vibrant and living reminder that the Holy Spirit is never static, never predictable and is eternally creative. ‘With the eyes of faith,’ says Pope Francis, ‘we can see the light which the Holy Spirit always radiates in the midst of darkness’.”
In ancient churches, stained glass windows and wall paintings were placed there to teach the faith to those inside. Pope Francis challenges us to shed the light of the gospel in all ways possible to those outside the church, whether lapsed or unbelieving. In his first encyclical, Lumen fidei – The Light of Faith §51 – he says,
“Faith is truly a good for everyone; it is a common good. Its light does not simply brighten the interior of the Church, nor does it serve solely to build an eternal city in the hereafter; it helps us build our societies in such a way that they can journey towards a future of hope.”
We have taken his words literally. Our window is not to ‘simply brighten the interior of the Church.’ Our window will be illuminated during the hours of darkness to show to the passing world – while we evangelists sleep – that the grace of the Holy Spirit is constantly present in our lives, leading our journey towards a future of hope, and that we all have a part to play in that.