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Stained-glass windows with a modern twist the finishing touch on local church's remodelling

Our Lady of Hope Church spent more than $1M on renos

Parishioners at Our Lady of Hope Roman Catholic Church in the city's West End will soon be able to enjoy the lovely sight of new stained-glass windows as they attend mass.

The new windows — designed by Toronto's Sue Obata and fabricated and installed by Sattler's Stained Glass Studio out of Nova Scotia — are part of an extensive renovation of the 1971-built church over the past five years. 

Traditional stained-glass windows in churches typically feature figures from the Bible, but that's not what you'll find in these designs.

Obata, who recently invited to the church as the windows were being installed, said her windows are of a modern design using colour. 

They contain a lot of blue and red, which symbolize the Mother Mary, and gold at the top, which symbolizes God.

“I can design traditional or modern,” she said. “I prefer to do more modern work because it's newer and more contemporary. I like contemporary designs as opposed to replicating the past — the traditional stained glass.”

She designed windows for the church's adoration chapel, as well as the chancel and altar windows in the sanctuary.

Obata said there was a lot of back and forth during the design process, but the church was very open to her ideas.

“We're very happy to have this commission to do some contemporary artwork,” she said.

“I'm glad for the support and encouragement. What we've heard so far is good. Of course, mostly it's out of bounds right now until the work is finished, but a few parishioners have come in and really enjoyed seeing the windows.

“We hope they will enjoy them. That's part of the reward, is to see people's reaction.”

Father Larry Rymes, pastor of Our Lady of Hope, said the new stained-glass windows, as well as new pews being installed in the sanctuary, are part of the final phase of the church's remodelling.

He said the church has put more than $1 million into the remodelling, which was overseen by local architects Yellowega Bélanger Salach. Other phases included new light fixtures, flooring and doors.

“The place needed a facelift,” Rymes said. “It was dark and dingy and dirty.”

While the priest jokes he would have liked to see his own personal patron saint, Saint Lawrence, depicted in the stained glass, he does love Obata's modern design.

“We don't have the figures, but you can kind of see figures in it, depending on the person looking,” he said.

“I can see Mary in the window, I can see an angel, I can see fire — the flame of the Holy Spirit.

“The choice of colours is very pleasing. It does give you a very sacred feel. You're not in a mall. You're not in a gymnasium or store, but you're in a special environment.”

If you'd like to check out the newly remodelled church, including the stained-glass windows, Rymes said he hopes the renovations will be done by the first weekend in August.

Visit the church's website here.