For nearly a month, the towering dome of St. Charles Center in Carthagena, Ohio, motherhouse of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, Cincinnati Province, was a little less towering than normal.
Crews had removed the gold cross, ball and base that crown the Mercer County landmark as part of an ongoing rehabilitation project at the nearly 100-year-old main building.
On Tuesday morning, crews from Wellman Brothers, Inc., of Coldwater, Ohio, replaced the newly refurbished, base, ball and cross as Missionaries and lay residents watched in the clear blue morning light.
First the base, ball and cross were unloaded onto the grass to the north of St. Charles’ main steps. Then workers unveiled the pieces one by one, the gold glinting in the sun. Parts of the three pieces, which are made of brass then gilded with gold leaf, had to be fabricated as the originals were damaged by decades of wind, sun and rain.
While workers held the cross upright, some Missionaries and lay residents took the opportunity to stand next to it for photos.
Then Fr. Ken Schroeder, C.PP.S., stepped forward to offer a blessing. “Bless this sign of glory, and let it remind us that Jesus died and rose for all,” he said. “Help us to carry our cross with him every day, and to follow him in serving others.”
Once blessed, the cross had to wait while crews hoisted first the base then the ball to the top of the 120-foot dome. The three pieces add approximately 25 feet to the dome; the base and ball are approximately 17.5 feet together; the cross is approximately 7.5 feet. All three were in place before noon.
It was a happy occasion for a place that has been closed to the public since March, a sign of new life. Fr. Paul Wohlwend, C.PP.S., lives at St. Charles and was instrumental in its conversion to a senior living center. He watched as the refurbished cross was unveiled then lifted up and installed on Wednesday, and it made him think of the past, present and future.
“May the newly constructed copper cross, covered with sparkling gold leaf, be a symbol of renewed life, a symbol of the new creation for our Community and our motherhouse for the next hundred years. May its bright reflection of sunlight attract many new members,” he said.
“As we watched it rise high above the tower, raised by a motorized lift, we wondered how the working men accomplished this a century ago. May their labor and ingenuity inspire us in a renewed Community in the future.”
To view more pictures of the refurbished ball and cross, click here.