Monday, March 16, 2009

Basilica of Dreams: St. Francis Xavier, Dyersville, Iowa

WP Kinsella based his novel "Field of Dreams" in Dyersville, Iowa, a fitting place for building a historic structure that would bring out the best in devotional interest. Kinsella wrote about a shrine to baseball, but in reality, Dyersville is the home a truly remarkable structure, the Basilica of St. Francis Xavier. I was lucky enough to get to visit SFx this weekend, and came away impressed.

Built in 1888 by German (along with Luxemborgian) immigrants, this may be the smallest town in the US with a Basilica, as it was named by Pius XII in 1956. Seating capacity is 1200 (including the choir loft). I was informed that 850 people were at mass on Saturday at 4PM vigil, which was an average crowd (for a parish holding 5 Masses). A little math, that makes 4,250 people per weekend in a town of 4,000. Give or take 10% tourists, and this is a well-uitlized parish.

Excellent architecture historical profile here

There is humorous stained glass of St. Francis Xavier and the "Indians", in Iroquois looking garb. This is a must see Church, explemplifying the best in Catholic Architecture and preservation of the sacred.

The Basilica is about 20 miles west of Dubuque, which also has it's share of fine churches, and 40 miles from Galena, which is an architectural gem.

Dyersville is a small city with an active Catholic Community, with a tremendous churchgoing population, as well as a Catholic High School (Beckman) and Grade School (SFx).

A round of applause to the Community of St. Francis Xavier!

Friday, March 06, 2009

Voting Out the Vandals: Wilmette vs. Village Trustee

Some of my neighbors are campaigning against one of the Village Trustees who mangled the Mallinckrodt Convent project here in Wilmette. I don't like to take political positions on local issues at St. Barbara's but I will make an exception against the desecration of the sacred. Here is a pretty good run down

Four candidates have filed for three openings in the April 7th election to the Wilmette Village Board. The good fortune that this election is contested emanates from the move to re-elect one of the most controversial and destructive members of the board: Lali Watt.

Remember the Mallinckrodt (debacle)? Wilmette kool-aid drinkers back in 2001 swallowed Lali Watt’s community organizing arguments and voted to pay $24 million for a 17-acre park the village didn’t need. There were the Catholic voters who were promised retention of the historical chapel at Mallinckrodt College (since demolished); the soccer parents who were promised lighted fields (never happened), and the senior citizens who were promised a thriving senior housing complex - which has been in foreclosure since last September, owes $19 million on its loans and reports half of the units unsold. And lest we forget, there were the greenies who voted to save the trees. Remember waking up one morning to the front lawn on Ridge that was a muddy wasteland cleared of ancient trees? Yes, it was Trustee Lali Watt we have to thank for the secret deal with the Mallinckrodt developers (before the election) to clear cut all those beloved trees.

I'll vote against anyone who tears up Chapels. This project was botched and in many respects unethical. Everyone associated with it should be held accountable, which for a Trustee, is via the ballot box.

Here's some of the Stained Glass salvaged for sale.