Friday, August 12, 2022

St. Joseph Parish in Milton Restores Former Cemetery Chapel Altar of the Sisters of Christian Charity

In April of 2018, the Sisters of Christian Charity closed Holy Family Convent in Danville and moved back to their Motherhouse in Mendham, N.J. The congregation sold the convent and grounds to Geisinger for use as office space and parking.

Knowing that any items remaining at the former convent would be destroyed in construction, the Sisters asked Father John Hoke, pastor of nearby St. Joseph Parish in Milton, if the parish would be interested in any statues for the parish or its grounds.

The parish selected to refurbish an altar that graced an old small cemetery chapel designed to give proper respect for the deceased Sisters the night before their burial on the grounds of the convent. The chapel, in its day, featured ornately-painted walls reflecting 1800s European religious art. The frames of what at one time housed exquisite stained-glass windows were now just empty frames in the chapel. The older Sisters in the congregation still remember using the chapel during funeral times and spending hours in vigil the night before burial.

An artistic parishioner at St. Joseph Parish – Doug Bertanzetti – was asked to restore the altar to its original splendor. The altar depicts Jesus’ Agony in the Garden. While the disciples slept, Jesus prayed, and an angel appeared to Him, holding a cup. Jesus accepted His Father’s will of suffering the Agony, the Passion, and the surrender of His life for our salvation.

The restored altar now graces St. Joseph Parish Center, and was used by the parish for the first time for Adoration on Holy Thursday, at the conclusion of the Mass of the Lord’s Supper. The time of Adoration recalled how Jesus went out to the Mount of Olives to pray, and asked His disciples to spend an hour with Him in prayer that they would have the courage to remain faithful to Him.

(Photos courtesy of St. Joseph Parish in Milton.)

From St. Joseph Parish, Milton

This newly-refurbished altar, which graces St. Joseph Parish in Milton, once belonged to the Sisters of Christian Charity, and was repurposed for the parish after the Sisters’ convent in Danville closed.
This newly-refurbished altar, which graces St. Joseph Parish in Milton, once belonged to the Sisters of Christian Charity, and was repurposed for the parish after the Sisters’ convent in Danville closed.

These images show the top and bottom of the altar – formerly part of a cemetery chapel – before its restoration.

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