History of the Assumption Blessed Virgin Mary Church Crucifix
Dear Fr. O’Brien,
I am one of the students from Assumption who participated in the tile crucifix project headed up by Mrs. Maggio sometime during the 60’s.
To the best of my memory Mrs. Maggio came into our classroom one morning with a project under her arm. She instructed each of us to choose one of the colored tiles and place it in a grid that would inevitably be set into a large frame that would be a part of the crucifix to be hung in the new church.
No more than ten years old, I sensed this was a project of privilege and so with careful fingers chose a tile and placed it in its assigned spot. I recall Mrs. Maggio saying that our class’s grid would be set behind one of the arms of Christ crucified. Sure enough, the crucifix was hung with a foundational frame that was made up of hundreds of tiles and mine was among them, inches away from the exquisite, bigger than life carving of Christ.
Although I belong to another parish now, when I do visit Assumption Church I look at the crucifix and am content to know that my particular tile is there amongst all others, in its providential place. So many rich themes have come out of this project!
I have imagined myself a witness of Christ’s crucifixion from the perspective of my little tile that is, just behind our Lord’s arm. So close, I can hear the laborious breathing of our beloved Jesus. From there I can see the twitching nerves of Jesus’ arm and the spasms of His nail wounded hand. From that height I can look upon all who sit in the pews—prayerful and distracted alike. These tiles have been present at all the Masses, weddings and funerals, to include my own father’s funeral. Behind open or locked doors, with or without visitors, my little tile is always next to Jesus.
When I placed my tile into the grid I was at a stage in life when considerations of the future did not exist beyond a few days. Four decades later, my life is more than half spent. I stand at the foot of the cross and looking up at my sweet Jesus consider all the healthy seed that was planted in my soul by persons like Mrs. Maggio. Her inspired project was a gift from the Holy Spirit that blesses to this day.
Thank you for asking about the tiles. This is but one of the many life giving experiences I enjoyed as part of my Catholic education and spiritual formation provided by the nuns, priests and lay staff of the parish.