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The Message

The Message

The newly completed work at St. Gabriel the Archangel Church in Louisville, Ky previously entitled The Annunciation. This article was written for the parish newsletter by Rhonda Becker and Patrick Lynch.

In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.” …

This is perhaps the greatest message ever delivered. Can you imagine a more powerful message
than the one Gabriel carried to Mary? Over the past two years, artist Pat Sheehan has worked with a
committee of staff and parishioners to bring the meaning of this monumental message to life. Fittingly,
the masterpiece that he has painted in our Loft has been entitled The Message. It is no coincidence that
the theme of this newsletter is The Message as well.

Over two years ago, donations were gifted to our parish and it was decided to acquire art to
beautify the space here at St. Gabriel. A committee was formed to help bring this dream to life. The
members of the committee are: Fr. John Stoltz, Rhonda Becker, Linda Hemmer and Patrick Lynch. We
met for the first time and agreed that our first acquisition should be a painting of “The Annunciation”.
Fr. John knew of an artist who belonged to St. Bernard Parish and suggested that the committee have a
look at the work he had done there. We did indeed go and see the work done there by Pat Sheehan and
decided we needed to talk to this artist. We reviewed his work and all agreed that he was the artist for us.
We only hoped that he would be able to make the modest little “painting” (we thought we needed) fit
into his busy schedule. As it turned out, God had other plans for us all.

Pat came to St. Gabriel to meet with the committee and view the space where we
wanted to hang the painting. When he saw the space, he was speechless. The talk about a
“painting” quickly changed to talk about a “mural.” Pat felt a connection to the space and an
inspiration in the space immediately. As soon as he walked in the room, he referred to it as
“sacred.” As you know, the Loft was part of the choir loft of the old church. It didn’t take him
long to convince us there was a story to be told—one much larger than the small painting that
we had initially envisioned. Pat wanted to paint our wall, or perhaps he was inspired to tell a
story. Either way, we knew immediately he was the one to tell that story for us.

Once the details were ironed out, the work began. While the theme of the mural is “The Annunciation”,
other connected stories began to unfold. The process became very collaborative. Pat sent
us his sketches for our input. Then as direction was refined, it was as if a road map was set before us.
The composition of the mural seemed to flow effortlessly. We were, of course, led to the Scripture
stories that seemed most important—the Nativity, Death and Resurrection of Jesus, but then we were
led to those that had meaning for us, the Baptism of Jesus, the Wedding Feast at Cana, the Woman at
the Well and the Raising of Lazarus. In the end, the mural became not only about the important message
that Gabriel brought to Mary, but also about the important message that happened after that—the
message and meaning of our salvation history. Throughout history murals, frescoes and stained glass
were meant to educate the people about their faith. The masterpiece that graces our Loft is this kind of
art—beautiful, but rich in symbolism, scriptural reference and detail.