New Signs for St. Mary’s

March 17, 2011
By

Fr.  James Ronan

All of us who are privileged to live in this wonderful community spend a lot of time walking. This is a “walkin’ town” and I, for one, love it. Of course, my dog, Daisy, does as well.

One of the consequences of walking everywhere is the pleasure of meeting and greeting folks as one walks along. This is, often, for me an occasion to greet members of the Parish and make new acquaintances. I suppose it is because Charlestown is such a neighborhood that everyone knows where things are and signs indicating a store or business are not that important.

There is no sign on Saint Mary’s Church. I was always puzzled by that; at least until I came to understand better the walking nature of folks who live in our neighborhood. And yet, signs do more than say “This is the place.” A well designed sign can serve as an invitation to stop and look–maybe, come inside. A sign can be welcoming, attractive and esthetically beautiful. A good sign can also give a lot of important information that a passer-by might like to know. Signage can convey the spirit of what goes on inside – warm, inviting and good!

For all of these reasons and more, we have been working on putting some signs on the front of St. Mary’s Church. Now this is not a small challenge! Our beautiful Church sits right on the sidewalk on Warren Street so there is little space to work with. Also the façade of our Church is dramatic with stunning brick work and granite. Any sign placed on the building would have to be worthy of the beauty of the building.

During my years as a pastor in Lawrence, I had experience with Harvey Signs in Methuen and knew the excellent quality of their work. Early on, Mike Harvey visited the Parish and, after meeting with staff, we spent some time inside the Church building. Mike noticed how often the architect used an ancient symbol, the mandala, in the wood (see it on every bench), in the stained glass and, in fact, all over the building. The mandala is a quatrefoil inside of a circle and represents a journey from the outer world to the inner sacred center where the Divine is found. We have carried this theme into the design of
the new signs and now we have a final plan.

Within the next two weeks, the new signs and banners will be installed on the front of St. Mary’s Church, on some of the side doors as well as on the front and rear of the Parish Center. It seems to me, this is a fitting moment for us to install this beautiful art as one more sign of welcome to all who are in Charlestown and to those who are visiting our magnificent neighborhood. A Christian Community, to be true to its calling, must be an open place where all are welcomed.