October 3, 2011
“As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ. For in one spirit, we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.”
1 Corinthians 12:12-13
Amarillo—It started with inspiration from Mass on a Sunday morning. Which led to a sketch. That led to a bowling alley conversation. That finished with a Cross that is the centerpiece of the fall season for RENEW at St. Francis of Assisi Church.
Our story begins with parishioner Craig Stidham, who is the unofficial photographer at St. Francis.
“During Mass one Sunday morning, I was inspired by a reading from Corinthians that talked about everybody coming together and being part of the Holy Spirit in Christ,” he said. “I received the idea to symbolize Corinthians in using a wooden Cross, wooden Cross…funny, Jesus was a carpenter and this was the medium in which we wanted to use.”
Shortly thereafter, Stidham was meeting with other RENEW leaders, at which time the idea of a Cross was first discussed.
“One Tuesday night during our parish RENEW meetings, the four of us that are RENEW leaders here at St. Francis (Stidham, Karla Neusch, Gerald Detten and Doris Smith), got together and discussed how to make this idea of a Cross possible,” he said. “The original idea was to use rods and take paperclips and clip the cards to the Cross to show that everybody was taking part in RENEW.
“From an artistic point of view, that just didn’t look very attractive and I wasn’t really happy with it. So we discussed other ways to make this happen, and the idea of a wooden Cross came about, which was ironic, because the four of us were drawing straws and trying to decide who was going to tell Don Wetmore he had to build the Cross.”
The idea advanced to the next step in of all places, a bowling alley.
“On Wednesday mornings, a number of us from the parish go bowling at Eastridge Lanes,” said Stidham. “I had with me this sketch on a piece of paper. I was told that since it was my idea, then I had to be the bearer of news to Don. So I asked Don while we were bowling if we could make this out of wood. He gave it an honest effort and looked it over and said he would help out and make it happen.”
Enter parish carpenter extraordinaire Don Wetmore.
Wetmore, who is retired, looked over Stidham’s sketch and agreed to take on the project.
“I only made one rough draft,” he said. “I made a working set, so I could lay it out on the work bench and then transfer it to the final set.”
The Cross was built in two weeks and then cut into 74 pieces.
“I’m retired,” he said. “I have lots of time. I took my time and filled it all in. I worked it out mathematically how much space I would need, which led to the final result.”
Stidham has nothing but praise for Wetmore’s work.
“Don did a fabulous job,” he said. “It’s a beautiful Cross, just as a whole piece, but then when you combine that with the ideas and meanings behind it, it’s absolutely perfect. This Cross helps St. Francis take RENEW to the next level.”
Wetmore’s work also drew praise from the leaders of the St. Francis RENEW group.
“Anytime we need any woodworking done here at St. Francis, Don Wetmore is the man we come to and he’s always been gracious about helping and at no expense to the parish,” said Doris Smith. “He has a history here at St. Francis of doing beautiful work.
“This Cross is awesome. The way he has carried out Craig’s idea and brought it to this much perfection is wonderful. For the RENEW program, it helps to bring all the people in the parish closer together so we are more a part of a community of unity. That’s what the RENEW program is aiming for. Both Craig and Don have done a fabulous job.”
On Sept. 18, the Cross was broken into 74 pieces, with each family given a piece of that Cross. The family wrote their name on that piece, then put the piece back on the Cross.
“This Cross project is a work in progress,” she said. “The piece of the Cross signifies that family’s commitment to the RENEW process this fall, that they will be praying that the RENEW program will be a success.”
While the fall session of RENEW is underway, St. Francis RENEW leaders are already thinking ahead—to next spring. Stidham was asked if he had anything in mind.
“I guess we’re calling upon the Holy Spirit and try to raise the bar another notch.”