St. William’s Church in Maddock dedicates 15 stained glass windows

by Father Brian Bachmeier


Nativity & Epiphany window sponsored by the family of Cheryll (Maddock) Ellingson, the only parishioner who remembers attending both the original Church dedication in 1954 and the stained glass window dedication in 2017. (submitted photo)

In 1954 in Maddock, a small number of committed Catholic families worked hard and contributed generously to make their new Church building a reality. At the time of construction, they desired to install stained glass windows, but they simply did not have the resources.

On Sept. 9, 2017, 63 years later after the dedication of St. William’s Church in Maddock, the vision of those committed families was finally complete with a dedication service for 15 refurbished, antique, stained glass windows.

In 2016, the parish council decided that the deteriorating and heat-inefficient original wood windows needed to be replaced with commercial, thermal-insulated windows. After a little research, it was determined that the cost of new stained glass was not feasible, so the parish then looked into the possibility of purchasing and restoring a set of antique windows.

Providentially, the church discovered a set of 13 antique stained glass windows from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. These high-quality windows, created in 1921 by Conrad Schmidt Studio, were removed from the closed parish of St. Callistus in Philadelphia. The windows depict 13 events from the life of Jesus and the Holy Family. Additionally, there were two smaller windows from St. Mary's Villa for Children and Families in Ambler, Pa. that matched very well.

Unfortunately, the lead in all of the windows was crumbling due to age, and the window size and shape was different from the St. William’s window openings. Working with Michael Orchard Studio of Fargo, the parish was able to disassemble, re-lead, and re-construct the inner medallions of these antique windows and set them into a field of outer stained glass designed to fit and match the interior design of St. William’s Church. The total cost of the 15 refurbished stained glass windows came to about $37,500.

To pay for the new windows, the parish began a capital campaign requesting that families consider “sponsoring” a window at a cost of $2,500 each, with the ability to include memorial text in the bottom nameplate of the window. Within a couple of weeks, this small parish of under 50 families had each of the 15 windows fully sponsored.

Since the parish of St. William’s is in a heavily Lutheran community, the council discussed the possibility of having an ecumenical service to dedicate the windows and celebrate their completion with the broader Christian community. The pastors of the two other local Christian congregations in Maddock, Lu Mathison and Allen Campbell, were supportive of the event and participated in leading the dedication service. It just so happened that the famous Catholic composer and musician, Eric Genuis, was in town that evening to do an event at the local Opera House. He and his ensemble of professional musicians contributed by performing two beautiful pieces of music as a part of the service.

After 63 years, many of the names of the silent founding members who worked so hard to provide a Catholic Church in the Maddock community are now inscribed into memorial plates of stained glass in the very Church they built. Their descendants, who still celebrate the Eucharist in the Church that was handed down to them along with their Catholic faith, remember the sacrifices these founding members made. While these founders could not complete every detail of their original vision, their children and grandchildren are now continuing their legacy and keeping the flame of faith alive for future generations.