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Featured Window

Window of the Month
Our Lady of Grace, Dearborn Heights, Michigan

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Featured Windows, September 2004

St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church Windows

Building: St. Thomas Aquinas Church

City: Elmira

State: Michigan

These nave windows at St. Thomas Aquinas Church are part of a series of windows that depict the biblical creation story as told in the Book of Genesis.

The window on the left represents the creation of light and waters upon the earth; the window on the right depicts the creation of fish in the seas and birds of the air;

the window above represents the creation of all other animals and human life. Other windows in the church include a "Descending Dove of the Holy Spirit" sanctuary window and three choir loft windows with floral designs. All of the windows were designed and created in 1979 by Tom Woodruff at his Suttons Bay Stained Glass Studio, which he operated until 1983. Now living near Fenwick, Michigan, Woodruff continues to design and create stained glass windows, in addition to storytelling, illustrating books about Michigan and the Great Lakes, and conducting illustration workshops. Another Window of the Month created by Tom Woodruff, is April 2001.

St. Thomas Aquinas parish began in the late 1880s when Polish families moved into the area to work for logging companies. The first church, a small frame structure, was built in 1895. The present brick church and rectory, completed in 1954 under the leadership of Father Ceslaus Klimowicz, were constructed by the parishioners themselves, after a plan drawn up by carpenter Joseph Dzwik, mason Peter Nowak and store owner Frank Zaremba. In addition to donating their labor, many of the parishioners set aside one or more acres of their potato farms for the growing of "Holy Potatoes" to benefit the church. A major remodeling project in 1979 involved installation of the twelve windows created by Tom Woodruff, who also carved a nine-foot wooden Christ figure for the sanctuary. The church was rededicated on August 12, 1979.

St. Thomas Aquinas Church was registered in the Michigan Stained Glass Census by Mary Kucharek of Elmira.

(MSGC 1994.0147)

Text by Betty MacDowell, Michigan Stained Glass Census, September , 2004.