By Mary Stadnyk | Associate Editor
Ask Irene Gallagher of St. Elizabeth of Hungary Parish, Avon, about the striking banner she created for the Mass celebrated by Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., in the Belmar gazebo Aug. 13, and she promptly speaks about the man from whom she drew great inspiration for its design – St. John Paul II.
Photo Gallery: Mass at the Belmar Gazebo
The colorful cross-shaped banner, showing a montage of faces representing various ages, faiths and cultures, was patterned after a similar banner that hung in the worship space almost 22 years ago when the Holy Father, now canonized a saint, celebrated Mass in New York City’s Central Park in 1995. While the Central Park banner was about 30 feet high, and the banner in the Belmar gazebo was much smaller, Gallagher said, the themes were parallel.
Gallagher explained that, for many years, she has volunteered her time and artistic talents in helping to decorate the church and make banners for various liturgical seasons such as Advent, Lent, Christmas and Easter as well as in other areas around the parish complex. A parishioner who was familiar with her work asked her to consider creating the Belmar banner.
Describing some of the logistics that went into designing the colorful banner, Gallagher, who was an art education major in Monmouth College (now University), West Long Branch, and also taught art education, said she made it from native cloth and used fabric pens to draw and fill in the faces. She did some online research to get ideas on ways to compile the many faces and capture facial features and expressions.
Gallagher smiled when she said that it was a “gift from God” to have the privilege of being asked to make the banner for the Belmar Mass, then added that the entire event was a “gift from God,” mentioning the spectacular weather, the beautiful Mass and the bilingual music that was led by choirs comprised of people of differing ages.