The focal point of the gathering-place or plaza is the statue of our Patron: Christ Jesus. The Lord called Himself the Good Shepherd (John 10:14) and depicts himself throughout scripture as a loving, caring, shepherding God – leading and nurturing His people. It is the Lord who does the shepherding, as seen from the viewpoint of the Old Testament prophet Ezekiel, whose inspired words are depicted on the band at the base of the statue.
The sculpture of the Good Shepherd, is an original design of Sister Mary Peter Tremonte, and was cast in bronze in one piece at a foundry in Verona, Italy.
From the plaza, the gathering flows into the narthex or vestibule, a symbol of transition and a passageway into the assembly and worship space. We enter the main gathering space by two ambulatories: to the right passing the baptismal pool, symbol of entry into the community of faith; to the left, passing down the long, darker passage way that reminds us of being born into the light when we enter the main gathering place in the building. This latter ambulatory is adorned with niches, which contain artwork depicting the cycle of saints and facets of the liturgical year.
The baptistery is designed to reflect the older Christian tradition of baptisms by immersion in living (moving) waters. The descent into the baptismal waters was viewed by the earliest Christians as going down into the tomb, the death of Christ, and coming out, rising to new life with him.
The baptistery is located at the entrance to the central gathering space, as it is through the waters of baptism that we enter the community of the church. The upper bowl of the font, from which water flows, is also the container for holy water from which we bless ourselves as we recall our baptism. The pool is deep enough to allow the immersion of both children and adults in the fullest sense of the baptismal washing.
The bowl, spillway, and floor of the pool are covered with a smalti mosaic tile in a pattern depicting moving waters in colors of blue, green, white and gold, pointing again to the “living waters” of baptism and rebirth. The Travertine marble surrounding the pool is reminiscent of the desert through which we pass to come to the living waters. The living waters in the midst of the stone remind us of Moses bringing water to save the people (Exodus 17:1-7).
The Paschal (or Easter) Candle is symbolic of Christ, the Light of the World (John 8:12). The bronze holder for the candle is adorned with three (3) bronze angels, arms outstretched in praise. With the empty tomb behind them, they proclaim the Resurrection “He is not here; he has been raised up, exactly as he promised” (Matt. 28:6).
The baptismal pool and Paschal Candle holder were designed by Sister Mary Peter Tremonte, the liturgical consultant and artist.
The design for the stained glass windows is characterized generally by the use of bold, flowing lines and spaces that rise and fall, billow, break, and regroup in an abstract pattern as they travel across the glass from one area to another. The colors come from the delicate, subtle side of nature’s palette: pale pink, blue, and grey-white of the sky; greens and olive of vegetation that gives way to tans, sand and golden shades of the desert, these stretching out to meet the watery colors of blue and green again.
In keeping with the theme of the tent, the windows abstractly evoke the images of the 23rd Psalm with its allusions to the desert experience, the journey, the need for places of light and refreshment. Paralleling the stages in one’s own spiritual life, the lines and shapes might remind the viewer of times of dryness, loneliness and solitude, times of standing still and of great movement, times of aridity, dying and death, times of richness, growth and new life.
The expanse of glass is composed of 156 panels containing more than 80 different kinds of glass, both domestic and imported. Designed by Sister Mary Peter Tremonte, the windows were executed by Conrad Schmitt Studios in Milwaukee, Wisconsin under the supervision of Bernard O. Gurenke. They are featured in an edition of the National Catholic Directory for the United States.
The altar, the table of sacrifice and of celebration, reminds us of the Eucharistic presence of the Risen Lord and also of the presence of the Body of Christ: ourselves. Our table is the symbol of who we are as God’s chosen people
The image on the frontispiece of the altar can be seen as an abstract tree of life (Gen. 2:9), organic and growing, “bearing good fruit” (Mat. 7:19). The tree of life symbol is also reminiscent of the tree from which sprang the shoot who is the Messiah, and the living tree that became the true Tree of Life: the Cross.
The Ambo, where the Word of God is proclaimed and preached, reminds us of the presence of the Lord in His Word: spoken from, to and for His people in the midst of those gathered together in his name.
The ambo frontice bears an abstract of a grain of wheat – when it falls on good soil, it springs up and bears fruit in abundance (Luke 8:4-15). The grain is the Word of God and we are the soil in which it takes root and grows to the glory of His name.
Four woods (butternut, teak, white oak and walnut) have been precision cut to make up the in-laid designs in the altar and ambo frontices. Each was designed by Sister Mary Peter Tremonte and executed by Hall Manufacturing of San Antonio, Texas.
The image of the Crucified One is made of hydrostone and done in bas-relief to make it appear to have been carved from the wall. The absence of color is intended to make the figure more subtle, allowing lights and shadows to dramatize the features of the suffering Lord.
The crucifix is placed on a side wall in order to avoid competing with the central, dynamic action of Word and Sacrament being celebrated in the sanctuary. It was designed and executed by Sister Mary Peter Tremonte.
The 16 etched glass panel windows in the main gathering space pay honor to Mary, the mother of Jesus, especially as she appears in salvation history. She is seen as woman, helper, daughter, beloved bride, friend, and mediator.
The leptat glass technique is a patented process used exclusively by the Conrad Schmitt Studios of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The windows were executed there and designed by Sister Mary Peter Tremonte.
The organ in our church home is a 13-rank pipe organ constructed by M.P. Moller Company for our church community. It has two manual keyboards and a pedal keyboard, each containing a 61-note compass. Each keyboard has 11 different stops of the tilting-tab variety and there is also a coupler from the great organ to the swell to increase the diversity of sound.
The chapel, which opens onto the plaza and into the narthex of the main church, is in the form of a small tent or pavilion. It has a fixed seating for 45 and can expand with moveable seating to accommodate 60.
The chapel offers a place of quiet restfulness, prayer and reflection 24 hours a day. In addition to being the place of private prayer, it is also the location for celebration of daily Eucharist, the Liturgy of the Hours, prayer group meetings, and other liturgical and para-liturgical gatherings.
The chapel serves as a place of reservation for the Blessed Sacrament and as an area of prayer and preparation for those waiting to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The Stations of the Cross designed by Sister Mary Peter Tremonte encircle the glassed walls in a band around half the chapel area. The furnishings in wood and bronze continue the materials and design theme set in the main church space.
A tabernacle located in the church, is the place reserved for the Holy Eucharist. The Blessed Sacrament is kept primarily for the sick, but also for adoration by the faithful as they recall the Eucharistic mysteries celebrated by the community in the Mass.
The design of the tabernacle was inspired by the Old Testament Ark of the Covenant which was kept in a special tent (Exodus 26) by the Israelites on their journey to the promised land. The Ark contained the commandments and the law of the Old Covenant. The tabernacle contains the reserved Eucharist, the presence of Jesus who is the New Law and the New Covenant. The Ark reserved a sample of the manna, the “bread from heaven” which the Israelites tasted on their journey; the tabernacle is a place for the heavenly bread which we eat so that we may never die (John 6).
Two angels or cherubim rested on the top of the original ark, forming a seat for the Presence of Yahweh the Lord. In the tabernacle, the two angels embellish the doors and symbolically draw back the veil so that the Eucharistic presence of the Lord is revealed.
Accompanying the tabernacle is a crystal lamp of original design, a permanent light that is the reminder of the continual presence of the Eucharist and the use of an oil lamp suggests those common in the time of Jesus, especially in the Temple of Jerusalem.
The two Reconciliation Rooms are located off the Chapel. Each is furnished to continue the monochromatic theme of the main church and offers a spirit of invitation, comfort, relaxation and peace to the penitent and the celebrant.
Each room, according to the Church’s desire, offers the option of anonymous or face-to-face confessional celebration. The penitent, upon entering the room, may either kneel behind the drape or sit in the chair facing the celebrant.
Each room contains an etched wood panel: one of the loving Father and prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32) and the other of Jesus and the woman who was a public sinner (Luke 7:36-50)
The artwork in the Reconciliation Rooms reflects the emphasis of the Word and Sacrament in the primacy of the Father’s loving forgiveness and our God’s anxious concern that we be loved, forgiven, and healed. The art is a celebration of our God of loving mercy, who as the Good Shepherd, delights when He has found his lost sheep (Luke 15:3-7)
The information for the church tour was made possible through the contributions of those involved with the publication of our original dedication booklet and the following involved in the construction of
Christ the Good Shepherd Catholic Community:
Spencer, Herolz, & Durham, Inc.
Sister Mary Peter Tremonte, O.P.
A.I.S. Electric Company
B & S Concrete
Braeburn-DeWitt Air Conditioning
R. M. Rodgers, Inc.