Future Priests of the Third Millennium

A little insight into the life of seminarians from various dioceses preparing for ministry as Roman Catholic priests, including daily activities, personal interests, special events, the spiritual life, news from the seminary, and almost whatever comes to our minds!

Monday, August 18, 2008

A Constructive Summer - the Saint Paul Statue: the Fifth Part

Saint Paul is here and standing! He arrived here at 8:14am on Friday, 15 August in the year of Our Lord 2008 - the Solemnity of the Assumption of Saint Mary. Installation was completed shortly before 11am.

My thanks to Ben for keeping us up-to-date with the finalization of the construction on the pillar which now holds our original, custom-made statue of Saint Paul. The statue was designed by Angelo Gherardi in Park Ridge, Illinios - very near Chicago. The sculptor was Franco Dolfi - an Italian artist whose studio is in Tuscany. There were many donors who contributed to this project; the principle donors are a husband-wife team: John and Kay (pictured here with some of their family members). This author had previously reported that these benefactors had chosen to remain anonymous; please accept both my apology as well as my retraction and correction of this point.

Now, say and comment as you will, but this author was so excited to have the Saint Paul statue come that I had a hard time going to bed the night before. No later than 7am, we already had crews, seminary staff, and onlookers gathering in the courtyard in anticipation of the arrival of Saint Paul.

During this interim time, our crews tested all of the machinery and triple-checked that all were ready to execute the plans. So, here was the idea: 1) the statue would arrive and be unloaded into the lot to the East of the seminary; 2) the statue would be attached to a crane; 3) the crane would lift the statue and transfer it directly to the pillar - 170 feet away.

So, this crane was brought in. This author has never seen anything like this! The crane can extend 200 feet and lift this 4,500 pound statue from the parking area of the seminary all the way to the far side of the courtyard - that's 170 feet - with precision accuracy. To give you a sense of how high this is, check out this picture of the first trial run of the crane behind the Metropolitan Cross.

On a personal note, you may recall that throughout this series, A CONSTRUCTIVE SUMMER, this author has been asking all of the crews to let me ride, drive, or even just sit in their very impressive machines; thus far, all crews have turned me down but not today!

That day, I was able to gain permission from the operator (pictured on the left) of the large crane to let me sit in the control booth. I did have strict instructions not to touch anything, but (in any case) I now FINALLY have success in getting (at least) inside the heavy machinery; I was inside this, the very machine that would bring our statue of Saint Paul to its pillar. Pictured on the left is the real pilot of the machine; I am on the right . . . a little too excited for the situation. Then came the statue! It took a while for our crews to unpack the statue and safely prepare to lift the statue nearly 170 feet in the air. This took much longer than I thoght it would, but as this is an original work, a one-of-a-kind, damaging the statue in any way was obviously not an option. Father Beaudet was very excited to be the first person to get a good look at the statue. Prior to the arrival of the statue, he was entertaining those gathered with background details on the life of Saint Paul, as well as his usual "priestly humor."

Then, DEFYING GRAVITY: our statue was lifted high toward the pillar. This author can testify that, though there was great excitment at this point, there were many very nervous faces in the crowd - no room for any mistakes here. Please keep in mind that this was on Friday, 15 August - the Assumption of Saint Mary: one of the onlookers jokingly commented: "Hey, I thought today was Mary's assumption."

Our crews then lowered the statue into place - again, much longer a process than this author would have thought. I was very impressed with the precision of the crane and also with the patience and skill of the crews. In the middle picture below, our Director of Spiritual Formation, Father Paul Sirba, managed to run up to the rooftop to observe the statue's installation from above.

And then, as they say, "There it is." In all its glory, there stands Saint Paul, patron of our city and our seminary. In the words of our rector, "Well, glory be to God."

Interesting story: just before Saint Paul arrived, one of the crew members asked, "What was Saint Paul known for? I mean what did he do?" I tried to hide my (mild) shock that someone would not know all about Saint Paul. However, seeing this as a chance to evangelize, I explained that much the of the New Testament (apart from the Gospels) was written by Saint Paul; I also began to explain his background and conversion to Christianity. At that point - to my great surpise - this crew-member responded, "Wait, I thought that was Saul!" Thrilled, I said, "Ah, so you did go to Sunday school . . . that's the same guy!"

Take care, -Jeremy

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have enjoyed your updates and am very eager to see the new sculpture! Thank you for keeping us informed (thanks to Ben also).

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