St. Thomas the Apostle himself stands outdoors in front of the main entrance to welcome you, courtesy of a former parishioner who characterized her work as “really a miracle” guided by the Holy Spirit.
Kathy McGuire, one of our first parishioners who relocated to Plano, Texas, even before church construction actually began, made this comment because the statue and the parish sculpture, a smaller piece that embodies St. Thomas’ Parish Statement, had never before attempted sculpted works of art. McGuire typically worked in oils, watercolors and stained glass.
The statue of St. Thomas, made of cast stone, stands 5 feet, 8 inches high and weighs about half a ton. With arms stretched skyward, St. Thomas’ gaze scans the heavens in an expression reminiscent of thanksgiving or supplication, depending upon individual interpretation.
McGuire was inspired to create the statue in 1984 while she was a member of the Building and Architecture Committee that planned the current church structure. Then her family relocated to Texas and it was 1986 before McGuire could start work on the statue aided by the Holy Spirit, some 15 library books and the advice of sculptors.
Work progressed from sketches to a 15-inch statue to a clay form the same size as the completed statue. Then, Dallas sculptor Herb Goldman helped make a plaster mold of the form and convince the Casci Co. of Dallas to cast that mold into stone. Casci also built the 300-pound pedestal for the stone figure and a shelf so the McGuires could transport the sculpture to its Naperville home in early October 1987. The statue was dedicated the day following its arrival.
Several unique features were included during the statue’s creation. Its clay mold was deliberately broken to preserve the statue’s unique quality. Holy water and some dirt from the earth on which the church was built also were mixed into the cast. Finally, McGuire etched a shamrock into St. Thomas’ robe to honor the first pastor, the Rev. James Curtin, and his ethnic heritage.
Although she hadn’t been back to Naperville since delivering the statue, McGuire noted in a 1994 interview that the spirit of the statue lives in her heart, as does St. Thomas the Apostle Parish. She commented, “It’s a love that’s really special to me. The people are so giving and warm. I have never felt such a feeling of community in a church in all my life.”
Of her initial – and only – effort at sculpting a statue, McGuire said then, “I had trouble believing what I was doing. Everything came so easily. I really believe the Holy Spirit guided my hands.”
Written by parishioner Cheryl J. Marshall