From the moment it opened, the Lynn and Denise Billadeau Chapel within the atrium of the new Trinity Health Healthcare Campus and Medical District stirred the imagination with its multiple symbols that provide a welcoming atmosphere to people of diverse faiths. It has since taken on an even greater aspect of transcendence, however, thanks to the timeless beauty of stained glass.
Seven panels of brightly colored glass were recently installed in the bottom tier of windows that form the north wall of the interfaith chapel. The impact has been extraordinary.
“The stained glass evokes a sense of awe,” observed Rev. Sylvester Onyeachonam, director of Trinity Health’s Pastoral Care Department. “When you’re in the chapel with the stained glass, the feeling of a sacred space comes alive.”
Dusty Zimmerman, director of the Trinity Health Foundation, says early concepts always envisioned windows that would become a key element in the chapel design. “We thought stained glass would be really great if we had the funds. Luckily, as the opening approached there was heightened interest in the chapel. Those added donations allowed us to include stained glass,” she explained.
Zimmerman approached Margie Bolton, owner of Margie’s Art Glass Studio in downtown Minot. She is an experienced artist, having created stained glass windows for many area churches and private residences. Working with the Trinity Health team, they mapped out a plan that called for stained glass on the chapel’s bottom tier of windows, leaving the top tier free to preserve the opportunity for natural light.
“We discussed different concepts,” Bolton said. “The design needed to be something that people of all faiths would feel comfortable with.”
The team pored over examples of stained-glass patterns. One resembling a sunrise caught Zimmerman’s eye, and Bolton liked it too. “I find color inspiring, so I try to use a lot of really vivid, rich colors. I actually had to correct myself halfway through because I had so many warm, bright colors, I needed to add some softer, muted tones out toward the sides. I think it gives a ‘new day’ kind of feel.”
Numerous hours went into the project – about 50 hours per window, Bolton estimates. She worked quickly, however, and by early autumn the windows were ready to install. “I get super anxious when I’ve finished a project,” she confessed. “I had a contractor help me and we put them in; I didn’t tell anyone.”
With the contractor’s help, the two mounted the stained-glass windows by screwing them into the existing aluminum frames, being careful not to create a seal. “The windows have a gas in them to keep moisture out of it,” she noted. When they were finished, she surveyed her creation and was pleased. “It was a pleasure for me to do this because when I first saw the room I thought, ‘oh, it’s so generic.’ I don’t think it’s generic anymore.”
With the windows finally installed, it was time to give others a glimpse. “When I walked in my first thought was – this space has always felt so serene and peaceful, but this really completes it,” said Zimmerman. “It provides greater privacy from the outside, which is another advantage. Ultimately, it is the finishing touch to what is already a perfect space for meditation or thoughtful reflection.”