Featured Windows, February-March 2011
St. Thomas a'Becket Catholic Church, Canton, Michigan
Building: St. Thomas a'Becket Church
Canton Township became the fastest growing area in Wayne County in the early 1970s. Cardinal John Dearden invited Fr. Ernest Porcari, then pastor of St. Clement parish in Dearborn, to form a new parish in Canton to meet the needs of the growing population. The first Mass for the new parish was celebrated at Mildred Field public school on June 19, 1977. A building committee began raising money for the church, to be located on Lilley Road south of Cherry Hill in Canton Township. Groundbreaking took place on August 17, 1980, and the original church building was dedicated on December 20, 1981.
The original church was designed by David Osler, FAIA, David C. Milling, AIA, Geoffrey M. Perkins, and Carl O. Hueter, R.A., of Ann Arbor, MI. Its design was based on the shape of a modified pyramid, with bands of glass at the base of the pyramid to allow light to suffuse the interior. The apex of the roof gave focus to the altar and accommodated the 19th century track organ within.
As a result of continued parish growth, a new sanctuary was added to the original church. It was dedicated on September 8, 2001. The original building became the narthex and Gathering Space of the enlarged church. The new form of the church evolved from a desire to join space with a quality of light that would be conducive to worship. The church design is a contemporary form of early English campus architectural style, with slightly Romanesque overtones. It was designed by Jed Dingens, AIA, of Corunna, MI.
St. Thomas a'Becket incorporated new technology stained glass, designed by Sarah Hall (Sarah Hall Studio) of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The windows were designed, full-sized and hand painted by Sarah Hall with technical assistance and installation by Helga and Norbert Sattler. Lamberts full antique glass was used exclusively with traditional glass paints for the windows. All of the work was done in Canada. The most prominent window is the Rose Window, depicting the Canterbury Cross. The Canterbury cross is a stylized image and reminder of our patron saint, St. Thomas a’Becket, the former Archbishop of Canterbury.
The tower windows bring the “light of heaven” into the sanctuary, and this, combined with the windows’ theme of community and Church, provides a strong message of hope. The theme of the tower windows is “the liturgical seasons.” The tower above the altar is also reminiscent of a functional bell tower popularized in the cathedral design. Although we do not have chimes on the hour, our tower floods the altar area with natural light and colored images from the stained glass above depending on the time of day and the angle of the sun.
The theme of the two sanctuary windows is the teaching of Christ, as shown through the parables and miracles in His ministry on earth. The parables are represented by the Parable of the Sower and the Seed. The miracles are represented by the Miracle of the Loaves and the Fishes. These windows are designed to be peaceful meditations.
The three Triangular dormer windows are an expression of Grace—in the past, present and future of the Church. The North window represents Pentecost, when Mary and the Apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit. This marks a beginning for the Church. The South window represents the fulfillment of the promise of Pentecost, the Church through its history up to the present day. The East window is the baptismal window, representing the future of the Church, in its newest members. The baptismal window uses sculptural elements and prisms - images of water and light - as a symbol of the sacrament.
The Chapel windows, representing earth and water, allow for peaceful contemplation.
You can take a virtual tour of St. Thomas a’Becket online at http://www.abecket.org/tour.htm
St. Thomas a’Becket Church was photographed and registered in the Michigan Stained Glass Census by Kirste Moline, Webmaster, St. Thomas a’Becket Church (MSGC 2010.0013).
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Text by Kirste Moline, Webmaster, St. Thomas a'Becket Church, Michigan Stained Glass Census, February , 2011.