Building statue's home took a village

2011-05-23T21:00:00Z Building statue's home took a villageBy Diane Poulton Times Correspondent
May 23, 2011 9:00 pm  • 

ST JOHN | When it came to designing and erecting a proper surround for the truck on which the Our Lady of the New Millennium statue of the Virgin Mary sits, hundreds of St. John the Evangelist parishioners volunteered their services.

The 24-by-34-foot facade features Chicago's Willis and Hancock towers and Holy Name Cathedral, St. John the Evangelist Church, assorted crosses and structures.

The process, which began in March, involved thousands of volunteer hours, said Barbara Biernat, who co-chaired the decoration committee with Claudia Rueth Zemaitis.

The project was finished last week, just in time for Sunday's benediction and consecration of the 33-foot shimmering steel statue by Cardinal Francis George, of the Archdiocese of Chicago, and Diocese of Gary Bishop Dale Melczek.

Biernat said that although many individuals contributed to the original idea, the final design was the vision of Robert Priesol, "a talented architect whose work has graced many communities for many years."

The finished architectural drawings were given to George Zemaitis, who created detailed computer-aided blueprints featuring construction and painting details.

Sixty sheets of plywood were primed prior to the statue's April 11 arrival, and construction began after Easter.

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