Leaven Blog

Lift high the cross

by Joe Bollig

A dramatic piece of sacred art has been installed at Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Kansas City, Kansas, but you won’t see it unless you know where to look.

On Nov. 9, workmen commissioned by Catholic Cemeteries of Northeast Kansas installed a new, life-size crucifix on the cleric’s plot behind the mausoleum.

The corpus has a height of six feet and an arm span of five feet. The cross, made of unfinished rough cedar, has a six-foot horizontal beam and a 12-foot vertical beam, of which two feet are buried in a pit stand. The pit stand was added on to the limestone retaining wall surrounding the plot. At the base of the crucifix is a pile of gray river stones.

Although the corpus has the appearance of bronze, it is actually made of a substance called kosmolux — a reconstituted marble composed of white Carrara marble powder and a binding agent, said contractor Tom Waliczek.

The new crucifix overlooks the central portion of the plot, in which Archbishop Ignatius J. Strecker and Auxiliary Bishop Marion Forst are buried.

The central portion has a square, black marble base. On the base at the four corners are white kosmolux statues of the four evangelists. In the center is a plain, white cross.

“The crucifix came about a year ago,” said Robert Chenoweth, director of Catholic Cemeteries of Northeast Kansas. “Msgr. Thomas Tank felt that we needed a crucifix, so he gave us a generous donation.”

Catholic Cemeteries commissioned a corpus for the white cross between the evangelists, but when it arrived they found that it was too large. Therefore, they decided to make a new cross for the corpus.

Waliczek made the cross in his Kansas City, Kansas, garage. The hardest parts were notching the beams just so, and getting the proportions right so the cross looked pleasing. He also built the pit stand.

Two of his workmen, Mike Kraly and Jacob Beggs, installed the crucifix.

The total cost of the project was about $13,000.

Chenoweth isn’t sure what they will do with the white cross.

“We think we’ll move it,” said Chenoweth. “It won’t be an easy task. We’re talking with a company that deals a lot with our granite monuments, seeking their advice about removal without damaging the black marble upon which it sits. It’s going to be a while before we can move it.”

Catholic Cemeteries will probably have a formal dedication, but nothing is planned at this time.

About the author

Joe Bollig

Joe has been with The Leaven since 1993. He has a bachelor’s degree in communications and a master’s degree in journalism. Before entering print journalism he worked in commercial radio. He has worked for the St. Joseph (Mo.) News-Press and Sun Publications in Overland Park. During his journalistic career he has covered beats including police, fire, business, features, general assignment and religion. While at The Leaven he has been a writer, photographer and videographer. He has won or shared several Catholic Press Association awards, as well as Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara awards for mission coverage. He graduated with a certification in catechesis from a two-year distance learning program offered by the Maryvale Institute for Catechesis, Theology, Philosophy and Religious Education at Old Oscott, Great Barr, in Birmingham, England.

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