Richard Adams and Regynal McKie
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – The oldest Catholic Church in GA is raising funds for their stained glass window restoration project.
Most Holy Trinity was first organized in 1810 and the current building, built from 1857 to 1863, is a monument to one of Georgia’s earliest Catholic communities and is an impressive example of Romanesque Revival in the 19th century church architecture.
But the historic stained-glass windows at Most Holy Trinity are in urgent need of restoration.
“These stained glass windows have been here since the 1910s, so over a 100 years, now,” says Father Jacob Almeter, Pastor of Catholic Church of the Most Holy Trinity in downtown Augusta at 720 Telfair Street.
“Father Jake” points out some of the weathering and damage that is requiring more than half-a-million to restore the one-of-a-kind stained glass at Most Holy Trinity.
“You can see the bulging at the bottom where it’s cracking, where the leading is coming apart,” says Almeter. “Stained glass is supposed to tell a story. So many people, particularly in the medieval times, were illiterate. So many of the faithful, Christian faithful, didn’t know how to read and write. They couldn’t necessarily just pick up scriptures and read them and things like that. So, what they did, is the Church said, ‘Well, let’s put the stories in imagery on glass.’
The organizers of the fundraising efforts call their campaign to restore the Church’s magnificent collection of stained glass windows the campaign to “Save the Gospel in Glass.”
The restoration project will allow for the re-leading and restoration of all 12 large narrative-style Nave windows, removal of the existing storm coverings at 15 windows, exterior painting of wood frames and steel muttons at 15 windows, and installing a new vented storm covering system for 15 windows.
“Moisture gets in there and causes this buckling, and that’s what’s going on here,” Almeter says, showing where pieces of one of the windows are separating from the whole. “The integrity of this glass is, uh, it’s actually coming part. It’s getting worse and worse, as I’ve seen it. [Since] the last time I looked at it really closely, it’s gotten worse, unfortunately. So, we need to get these restored as soon as possible – so that they’ll be back to normal and last, again, another 100 years.”
The windows are not only more than a century old – they have seen the children of Most Holy Trinity be baptized after birth, the elders of the church mourned in death, and been present through more than a century of spiritual instruction. They were produced by Mayer of Munich, a firm that made narrative stained glass in Germany for more than 170 years.
Sunday, February 4th, the Church and community were invited to a special concert to help raise funds for the window restoration project.
The concert featured the Most Holy Trinity Catholic Parish Choir and the Most Holy Trinity Children’s Choir, who were be accompanied by a chamber orchestra. The program covered the development of Sacred Music from Gregorian Chant to the Romantic era
Suggested donations for attending the concert Sunday were $20. The proceeds from the concert will be used towards the restoration project. Their current goal is $650,00 – but they are accepting donations of any size.
Sponsorship of an entire window is set at $55,000.
After the concert Sunday, February 4th, the fundraising efforts collected $152,989, meaning early efforts have reached more than 20% of the overall goal.
There will be another concert for Easter set for Sunday, April 21st, 2024, at 7 p.m.