New crucifix completes stadium at Miege
by Jessica Langdon
ROELAND PARK — It stands 24 feet high at the south end of the Bishop Miege High School stadium and it makes a clear statement: This is a Catholic school.
For several years, members of the mission team at this Roeland Park high school have been considering various faith symbols to complete the outdoor stadium that was built in 2007.
They finally decided on the perfect one.
“The central symbol of our Catholic faith is the crucifix,” said Joe Passantino, president of Bishop Miege.
With a crucifix already displayed in every classroom and other areas of the school, it just felt natural to add one to the outdoor stadium where Miege’s football, soccer and track teams practice and compete.
The new school year kicked off with the new crucifix in place — and it’s something fans don’t often see in a football stadium.
While many people who come to the stadium already keep faith at the center of their lives, said mission team member Sister Kathleen Condry, OSU, others likely don’t have regular contact with the sacred or with religious images.
The stadium’s crucifix changes all that.
“Bishop Miege is a place that is God-centered,” said Sister Kathleen. “It will allow the students themselves to connect in another way their faith and the rest of their daily lives.”
It will also serve as a focal point when teams pray before practice or the crowd prays at the start of a game.
“It really grabs you,” said Passantino.
The mission team took its time — carefully reviewing images and making sure everything fit the vision — but agree that this crucifix was worth the wait.
“It had to be one that would withstand the weather and still look as delicate and beautiful as a crucifix should,” said Sister Kathleen.
Mike Shaughnessy served as the architect, and JE Dunn Construction handled the cross, which is formed out of tubular steel, and the setting.
The fiberglass corpus alone stands eight feet tall and was crafted by Inspired Artisans of Milwaukee, Wis. Three school families were quick to volunteer to fund the project.
The crucifix was installed over the summer and blessed at opening game of the Stags season on Sept. 6 by Miege chaplain Father Larry Bowers.
The crucifix stands larger than life, towering over the teams that gather beneath it to pray.
But it’s the crowds of fans that get the best view of the addition, since it was designed to draw the attention of those in the bleachers during prayers before the national anthem, said Passantino.
The coaches have taken on the challenge of incorporating the crucifix into their teams’ efforts. But the addition of the crucifix has touched the whole school.
“I think it’s very satisfying to know that we were able to put the symbol of our faith out there and have such positive reactions to it — inspiring reactions,” said Passantino.
To him, the response of Judi Wollenziehn, librarian at Miege, aptly summed up the sentiments he has heard.
“It is a stunning sculpture,” said Wollenziehn when she returned from taking some pictures of the new crucifix for Miege.
“When I got close enough to take the picture, my eyes were so misty from being overwhelmed by the beauty and power of the work, I could hardly focus,” she said.