Brebeuf's new stained glass window panes, a labour of love

By Jeanné Morson, School Chaplain, St. Jean de Brebeuf CHS

The St. Jean de Brebeuf school Chapel is a modest, quiet and prayerful space where, in the presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, students, staff and members of our school community are welcome to visit, pray or reflect, even in the midst of their busy day, on their relationship with God.

The serenity of our Chapel is enhanced by the creative artistic contributions of both students and staff: paintings by senior visual art students and staff members imagine the times and life of Brebeuf; an enlarged image of an open tomb prepared by senior photo students is superimposed on the chapel doors welcoming students in; banners prepared by technological design students honour the sacrifices of Christ and those sacrifices made by Brebeuf in Christ's name; and a collage that incorporates the many faces of students and staff represent who we are as a community made in the image of Jesus. All these creative additions were our unique way of making our Chapel a home for our relationship with God.

What the space needed however, was a little Enlightenment. In the fall of 2014, Jeanné Morson, Chaplaincy Team Leader at St. Jean de Brebeuf Catholic High School shared her dream with Rosemarie Gidaro, Head of Arts,  that the addition of stained glass art in our chapel would be a creative way to express the joy of our faith through a visual and inspiring medium. A meeting with Rocchina Antunes, Principal; Jeanné Morson; Rosemarie Gidaro; and Adriano Stillo, Technology Design Teacher allowed a crucial connection to be made with a very talented and generous local artist, Bruno Stillo. Bruno Stillo has been creating beautiful stained glass for over 20 years and generously offered to donate his time to make this collaborative project come to life.

An essential and non-negotiable component to this initiative was that the artistic design be created by our own students. It was Gidaro's Grade 11 design class who would journey through a long process of brainstorming, sketching preliminary patterns and producing final pattern designs for the glass cutting. After several meetings, many hours of planning, drawing, purchasing materials, as well as many hours of intensive labouring on the part of Artist Bruno Stillo, and Adriano Stillo's skillful installation, we now have a stunning and unique addition to our school chapel: four completely original, student-designed, 5' by 3' hand-cut stained glass panels gracing our windows.

Each glass represents the colours and images of each of the seasons that St. Jean de Brebeuf would have embraced as a missionary among the Wendat people. Tree imagery seemed a suitable theme because the Wendat people lovingly referred to the tall, hardworking St. Jean de Brebeuf as Echon which, roughly translated means, "he who bears the most weight" or "the strong tree".

Almost two years after its inception, this beautiful and permanent addition to our school chapel is a testament to the talent, initiative, creativity, collaborative spirit, perseverance and amazing work ethic of staff, students and extended community at St. Jean de Brebeuf.