Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Unique stained glass windows a defining feature of Tri-Cities Prep’s new chapel

by Nancy Roach, for the Inland Register

(From the January 17, 2013 edition of the Inland Register)

The “Unity Window” in the new chapel at Tri-Cities Prep depicts both the mission of the school and symbols of the Columbia Basin area. (IR photo courtesy of Tri-Cities Prep)

Sawdust and scraps decorated the corners, and nails safely swept aside marked the perimeter of the room. Open beams and exposed wires were illuminated by flickering candles, and without a heating system in place, only the light of faith could warm the twenty families gathered in this starkly sacred space. Room 104 was the “chapel” at Tri-Cities Prep (TCP) where the first Mass of the Holy Spirit was held in the late fall of 1998.

Each Friday for three subsequent years, the pioneer students and faculty who helped build a solid foundation for the area’s only Catholic high school gathered in Room 104 and gave thanks for their small but vibrant community of faith. Although from its inception plans for the school included a chapel, the governing board rightly trusted that existing facilities could be used for worship until funds were available for its construction.

The student population outgrew Room 104 in 2003, the same year that the “Grant Activity Center” (TCP’s gym) was completed. From that year to the present, students prepare for weekly Mass by laying carpet tiles, assembling chairs, and moving the altar into place, carefully transforming the gym into a chapel. With nearly 200 students, however, the activity center is in constant use and the time has come for TCP to have its permanent sacred space.

Anticipating this, the board in 2010 launched the “Light of Faith Campaign” to raise funds for a new chapel, and today the exterior of the Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas is awaiting its finishing touches. To complete the interior, stained glass windows by the nationally acclaimed artist Patrick Clark are being dedicated.

A native of the Tri-Cities, Clark became interested in restoring stained glass during his high school years spent in Austria. For the past 20 years he has been working at his studio, Sunlites Stained Glass, in Rockaway Beach, N.Y. Clark is the only stained glass artist to create new stained glass for St. Patrick Cathedral in New York City since its completion in 1878. Most recently, Clark was commissioned to create in glass the coat of arms for Cardinal Timothy Dolan, which was installed in the sacristy of the New York cathedral last year.

In the third year of TCP’s history, Clark returned to the Tri-Cities to work with the students in creating a spectacular “Unity Window” which depicts both the mission of the school and symbols of the Columbia Basin area. This window remained in storage until it was placed in its permanent home at the entrance of the chapel last October. Clark is currently working on 15 windows that will reflect the seven sacraments, the Ascension, the Assumption, the Madonna, St. Michael the Archangel, and St. Thomas Aquinas. Sponsors have come forward for all but four of the windows, and this has provided enough revenue to move forward with the completion of the chapel’s interior.

The four windows still available for sponsorship are the Ascension, the Assumption, the Baptism of Lord, and the Return of the Prodigal Son.

The St. Thomas window is the “community window” and will be paid for by all who may not be able to individually sponsor a window but want to contribute to the completion of the chapel.

From its incorporation in 1994 to the present, Tri-Cities Prep’s history has been a journey of faith. It was the light of faith that generated warmth for those families during the first Mass of the Holy Spirit, and that same light has surrounded the community during liturgies in the Grant Activity Center. It is fitting that the campaign to build the chapel was called “The Light of Faith,” and that exquisite stained glass windows will soon reflect that transformative light far into the future.

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