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Featured Windows, July-August 2009

St. Hugh Catholic Church

Building: St. Hugh Catholic Church

City: Southgate

State: Michigan

St. Hugh Catholic Church, Southgate, Michigan. Built 1967, renovated in 1984 by Diehl & Diehl Architects, Inc. of Detroit, MI and Margaret Cavanaugh of Warren, MI.

St. Hugh Parish, named for a twelfth-century Bishop of England, was founded on June 14, 1966, at Southgate, just south of Detroit. Its first church, dedicated in 1967, was a rectangular single-story structure. Renovations of the building in 1984 were provided by the Detroit architectural firm of Diehl & Diehl and Michigan artist Margaret Cavanaugh, who created stained glass windows and entrance doors, altar area furnishings and a baptismal font, as well as furnishings and tabernacle for the chapel. The renovated church was rededicated on November 4, 1984. St. Hugh Parish celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2006. In June of 2009 the parish was reunited with St. Frances Cabrini Parish in Allen Park, MI, and St. Hugh Catholic Church was scheduled to close in August of 2009.

Margaret Bouchez Cavanaugh (1928-2008) was well known for her stained glass work and liturgical designs. (Click here for another Window of the Month by Margaret Cavanaugh and here for her biography.) Born in Detroit, she grew up in Ohio and received her art training from the College of Mount St. Joseph in Cincinnati. Following her graduation, she returned to Detroit to work for the Detroit Stained Glass Works, where she designed windows for many churches and other religious buildings. After the Detroit firm closed in 1970, she continued to design windows, liturgical spaces and furnishings at her home studio in Warren, MI. Several of her windows have been featured on this web site in May 1999 and February 2006.

For St. Hugh Catholic Church, Cavanaugh designed and constructed eighteen windows for the nave and four windows for entrance doors and sidelights between the nave and gathering space. During 1983 and 1984, she discussed her designs with the church and noted that they would be constructed with hand blown glass and copper foil. In a 1987 letter to the church, she explained the meaning of her windows. “The Story of the Windows,” based on her discussions and letter, states: “The windows in our church depict the seasons of the year. They move from fall, on panel 1, to winter on panels 2 - 5; from spring on panels 6 - 9, to summer on panels 10 – 14, and back to fall on panels 15 – 18. The tree is a common symbol of humankind. The trees in each window change as the seasons progress. In fall, leaves are on the ground, in winter the trees are bare. Running water indicates spring. Frozen lakes and snow suggest winter. Other things to look for are plants, birds, and nests with or without eggs. On the entrance doors, the fountain of water refers to our entrance into church through baptism. The primary purpose of the stained glass is to help us to pray by creating an environment of light and color. Delight in God’s presence among us!”

Left: Eighteen windows on the south wall of the nave are arranged in three groups of six windows each. The above six windows represent the changing seasons, from Fall to Winter to Spring. Right: Detail of the empty bird nest and full moon.

Left: The above six windows depict seasonal changes from Spring to Summer. Right: Detail of the two blue eggs in the nest at far left.

Left: These six windows represent changes from Summer to Fall. Right: Detail of the copper foil bird on the ground.

Left: Entrance doors and sidelights located between the nave and gathering space, as viewed from the nave. Right: Margaret Cavanaugh at the Rededication on November 4, 1984.

St. Hugh Catholic Church was photographed and registered in the Michigan Stained Glass Census by Greg Samoluk of Allen Park, MI.

Bibliography: Show Bibliography

(MSGC 2009.0002)

Text by Betty MacDowell, Michigan Stained Glass Census, July , 2009.