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October 11, 2009

First ‘green’ building at All Saints in Des Plaines blessed, dedicated

By Michelle Martin


Representatives from Catholic cemeteries around the United States attended a prayer service dedicating the new office and chapel building at All Saints Cemetery in Des Plaines Sept. 29, the same day Cardinal George dedicated the new St. Mother Theodore Guerin Shrine there (See Page 3 photo).

The building, which features a “green roof” over part of it and is expected to get Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold-level certification, features stained glass and mosaics of the Holy Family, Our Lady of Guadalupe and several saints, especially those from North America.

The building, which cost $4.3 million, includes office space as well as three interment chapels and public restrooms for people visiting the cemetery.

The Mother Guerin shrine features a statue of the foundress of the Sisters of Providence of St. Mary of the Woods by Indiana- based sculptor Teresa Clark.

Paul Pickel of Conrad Pickel Studios, which created the stained-glass windows of the saints, said the art in Catholic cemeteries plays an important role in emphasizing the Catholic belief in the communion of saints and eternal life.

Using stained glass helps make the point that cemeteries are not gloomy places, Pickel said.

“The glass creates an uplifting atmosphere. It’s light and bright, and you can feel the sense of resurrection,” said Pickel, who was working his company’s booth at the Catholic Cemetery Conference convention.

Cemeteries often use images of saints, the Holy Family and Mary, Pickel said.

Lynne Illig, with Matthews International Corporation based in Pittsburgh, said her company provides works in bronze, marble and sandstone.

Art in Catholic cemeteries helps make them prayerful places, she said.

“It’s inspiring. It’s very meaningful,” she said. “I feel I’m doing part of God’s work.”