November 27, 2014

Elyria
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Restored stained glass windows keep memories of closed church alive

Dr. Heather Scullin, medical director of the Mercy Regional Medical Center rehabilitation unit in Lorain, talks about a stained glass window remounted in a lighted alcove. (CT photo by Chuck Humel)

Dr. Heather Scullin, medical director of the Mercy Regional Medical Center rehabilitation unit in Lorain, talks about a stained glass window remounted in a lighted alcove. (CT photo by Chuck Humel)

LORAIN — When she looks at the pair of stained glass windows that once graced Lorain’s St. Stanislaus Church, Dr. Heather Scullin says they represent a sign of hope and comfort.

“It’s conceivable that a lot of our patients, especially some of our older ones, attended church there, got married there and were even baptized near them,” Scullin said of the windows that were recently put on permanent display at Mercy Regional Medical Center’s inpatient rehabilitation unit. “I’d like to think that patients would be comforted by them.”

Found in a warehouse where they ended up after the Elyria Avenue church was closed in 2009, the windows were covered with soot and dust, according to Scullin, medical director of the rehabilitation unit. Dating to 1908, the windows were cleaned and restored before finding a new home at the hospital in specially built, protective cases.

One of the windows, which bears the image of a descending dove inside a circular piece of stained glass, was near the baptismal font of the church, which catered to a large Polish congregation. That window is now at the end of a hallway in the newly renovated second-floor, 31-bed Mercy Rehabilitation Center, which offers intensive
physical, occupational and speech therapy to people who have experienced a disabling injury or illness.

That window is said to represent God’s presence and the Holy Spirit.

The other window, which is nearly identical save for the image of a bundle of wheat and a scythe, was placed behind a circular nursing station in the unit’s central rotunda. It previously had been near the choir loft at St. Stanislaus. The window represents the cycle of life and resurrection.

The windows already have sparked emotional memories for St. Stanislaus parishioners who have been patients in the unit. Some employees also have been moved.

“A lot of people were devastated when they lost that church,” Scullin said.

One of them was Amy Ruiz, a former nurse and the current case manager in the rehab unit.

“Her family went there for years, and her grandfather donated money to build the church and the windows,” Scullin said.

Of Polish descent, Scullin is from the Akron area, but she said she felt a kindred spirit with the parishioners who lost their longtime church homes as part of the Cleveland Catholic Diocese’s massive restructuring announced in 2009 that led to the closing of nearly 30 churches and the merging of about 40 more in an eight-county region including Lorain County.

St. Stanislaus was closed in September 2009.

Care was taken to ensure that the back-lighting for both windows would be moderate enough so as not to risk potential damage to the century-old glass, Scullin said.
“I’m glad we persisted to save them,” she said.

Scullin credited the efforts of Sister Carole Anne Griswold, vice president of mission integration for the hospital, with securing the windows. Griswold was unavailable for comment, but in a statement said the windows represent “Mercy’s history and the Catholic heritage of Lorain and serve as a symbol of healing for patients and their families.”

Both windows will be illuminated around the clock.

Plans call for a booklet on the church and its stained glass windows to be made available for patients and families being treated in the unit. Small plaques also will be placed near each window.

Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or sfogarty@chroniclet.com.