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St. Stephen
Deacon & Martyr
Catholic Church
P AG E 2
A Place to Inspire Growth
in Faith and Service
in the Spirit of our Patron, St. Stephen
A church building is meant to express the faith and life of a
community. The story of St. Stephen’s faith, found in Acts 6
and 7, proclaims the faith that we sought to express in our
church building. Stephen’s faith proclaimed the early church’s
belief that the meaning of life centered around the death and
resurrection of Jesus and that this faith was nourished in the
Eucharist. At the center of the church is the altar, where the
Eucharist is celebrated. Behind the altar, the central visual
symbol in the church a large crucifix and a stained glass window
that depicts the life that comes from the risen Lord.
The church building combines some traditional elements of
church design with an effort to be a fitting place to celebrate the
liturgy of the church today. It is above all a place for worship
while also being an environment for personal prayer. We invite
you to review this brochure that describes our church.
P A GE 3
Building A Church
St. Stephen parish was formed in November, 1999.
Ground was broken in August, 2001
Construction began on October 1, 2001
Early in the design process, four principles were stated:
1. Prayer would be the guide in achieving God’s guidance and
2. Our Catholic theology of worship and church would be evident
and our needs as a parish would be met within a limited
3. The altar would be the central feature. The Word in Scripture
would have a prominent place and the church would provide a
fitting setting to celebrate the sacraments; and
4. The church itself would invite all into the presence of God in a
sacred setting.
The design process began following a questionnaire to all
parishioners regarding their desires and expectations for the church.
One of the primary concerns was that the design of the church be
“traditional”. The rear of the church — that portion which faces
the intersection — was designed with two large steeples flanking a
large center window. This creates the illusion of a traditional
church façade with a center entry. The actual entrance and front of
the church face the parking lot and have a more human scale than
the more monumental street façade.
P AG E 4
Building A Church continued...
The church building itself is located on the highest and most
prominent part of the site, and as the intent was to have the church
building be a landmark in the community without “turning its
back” to the neighborhood, the placement of the parking lot was
designed not only to allow for efficient use of the parking area, but
also allowed the building and landscaping to screen automobiles
from the adjacent residential areas.
During the design process, the architects were able to completely
model the building and its interior spaces with the aid of computers
and drawing software. This allowed for a “virtual tour” of the
building and site, and aided the design committee in making the
many decisions about the form, material and colors.
Several old churches in the Archdiocese were closed for a variety of
reasons during the time when St. Stephen church was being built.
The furnishings and artwork in these churches were offered by the
Archdiocese to any parish that could use them. The cost of
refurbishing, cleaning or restoring these artifacts is absorbed by the
receiving parish. The design committee visited several of these
churches and was amazed and grateful that some of the beautiful
works of art could be utilized in our new
church. This added the dimension of
continuity with historic value to our project.
“Francis Cardinal
On November 24, 2002 – nearly 3 years
after the formation of the parish, Francis
Cardinal George dedicated the church
building, all the statues and furnishings.
George dedicated the
church building”
P A GE 5
As you enter from the outside you come into the narthex, the large
gathering area. The main doors of the church lead to the nave, the
area of the church where the assembly gathers for Mass. The nave
has a vaulted ceiling which is customary in sacred space, with the
Gothic arch being the prominent design feature appearing
throughout the entire church in the ceiling, doors, pews, altar, the
central window and the windows on both transept sides of the
church. The transcept windows are in sets of three to remind us of
the Trinity; the dimensions (21 ft. tall x 20 ft. wide) allow for an
abundance of natural light.
The pews (designed by Gunder Church Furniture of Iowa) are made of
cherry-stained oak. There is seating for 1,000 people and some pews are
indented to allow handicapped seating throughout the church.
P AG E 6
The most striking visual elements in
the church are the crucifix and the
stained glass window behind it.
Designed by Daprato Regali Studios
of Chicago, they represent those
actions of Jesus – His death and
resurrection – that bring us salvation.
We celebrate the life-giving death and
resurrection of the Lord every time
we celebrate Mass, so these symbols
are appropriate for the visual element
that catches our eyes as we enter the
church, providing the background for
the altar.
The crucifix is made of rift cut oak.
The corpus on the crucifix is made of
hand-carved wood in a lighter shade to
be clearly visible against the cherry
wood of the cross. The crucifix is 15
ft. high, 8ft. wide, weighs 500 lbs. and is supported by two airplane
cables attached to steel beams installed specifically for this purpose.
Central Stained Glass Window
Behind the Crucified Christ is a window that is designed to suggest
resurrection and new life. The bold, rich colors of the window,
simulating a sunrise, emanate out and suggest life-giving love
flowing from the Risen Lord. Images of water, wheat and grapes in
the lower half of the window remind us of Baptism and the
Eucharist, two of the sacraments by which we receive the life of the
Risen Lord.
The frame of the window weighs over 4 tons. A pane of clear glass
rests on the outside, with the stained glass on the inner part of the
frame. The window measures 34 ft. high by 18 ft. wide.
P A GE 7
The sanctuary area, where the altar and ambo are located, is
accessible by a ramp for wheelchair access.
As the place where the Eucharist is celebrated, the altar is the
central focus of the church. Designed by Gunder Church
Furniture, its size (4 ft. x 8 ft.) ensures that it remains prominent in
the large sanctuary. The combination of cherry rift oak and
Broughton Moor stone conveys both a sense of the warm
communal meal of the Eucharist and the sacrificial dimension of
Jesus’ gift of Himself for us on the cross.
The ambo, previously referred to as the pulpit, is located to the left
of the altar, and is prominent as the place for God’s Word to be
proclaimed. Built of the same wood as the altar, the height of the
ambo can be adjusted to enable a wheelchair-bound person or a
child to read from it comfortably. It provides a fitting place to
affirm the importance of God’s Word in the Bible.
P AG E 8
The baptistry is built of cherrystained rift oak and stone, and
allows both for the pouring of
water over the forehead of the
child receiving the sacrament, as
well as the traditional baptismal
pool. The gates installed at the
entrance to the baptistry were
originally part of the communion rail from St. Catherine of Genoa
Church in Chicago.
The Ambry (located behind the baptistry), is a special case for the
holy oils used for the sacraments of baptism, confirmation, and the
anointing of the sick.
Stone Towers
The idea of building stone towers in
churches can be traced back to the
Norman Conquest in the Middle Ages.
Stone replaced wood as the primary
building material, and towers were built
in churches as lookout posts to warn of
an attack. The
idea took hold from
physical necessity
and then became
a tradition in church
architecture. The
two towers on either side of the altar contain
important symbols of our Catholic faith.
These towers are seen as the steeple towers
on the outside of the church.
P A GE 9
The tabernacle, located within the left tower,
has been placed so that it is visible within the
body of the church. Designed with beveled
glass and carved sides (Gunder Church
Furniture), it expresses a sense of the sacred
as a repository of the Eucharist. The
sanctuary lamp, which burns in a Catholic
Church whenever the Eucharist is present,
hangs above the tabernacle in the tower.
Holy Family Statue
The Holy Family Statue (designed by Inspired
Artisans of Milwaukee) is located within the right
tower, and honors both Mary and Joseph with the
Child Jesus, while also reflecting the importance of
family life.
Choir Area
The area to the right of the altar and the Holy Family statue is
reserved for the choir. It allows ample space for the choir, the
piano, organ and sound system.
Stations of The Cross
The wood carved stations placed around the sides and back of the
church were acquired from St. Catherine of Genoa parish upon its
closing in 2002. The Stations (refurbished by Daprato-Rigali
Studios) are another reminder of the heritage of faith upon which
our parish is built.
P AG E 1 0
Stained Glass Windows
As construction of the
church was underway,
costs continued to
escalate and it became
apparent that funds
would be unavailable
to finish the side
(transcept) windows.
However, during 2002,
several old churches in
Chicago were closing.
When the design
committee visited St.
Laurence Church to
view the furnishings, our architect (Terry Russell) compared the
dimensions of their windows with the drawings for our windows
and discovered that they were almost identical. He felt that the
Spirit must have been guiding his hand when he was designing the
window openings several months before. The St. Laurence
windows, made in Germany, were installed in 1920. The windows
on the west side of the church represent four of the Joyful
mysteries of the rosary, along with Jesus, the Good Shepherd and
Jesus Knocking on the Door. On the opposite side of the
church are four of the
Glorious mysteries
along with St. Patrick
and St. Dominic. All
of these windows were
refurbished by Daprato
Rigali Studios with the
original donors’ names
being left intact to
retain the integrity of
the original design.
P AGE 1 1
St. Jude Statue
Continuing along the west side at the rear
of the church, stands another statue
designed by Inspired Artisans, that of St.
Jude, Patron of the Impossible. In front of
the statue are vigil lights which, by being
electric, eliminate the possibility of a fire
from traditional wax candles.
Our Lady of Czestochowa
On the east side of the church in the rear is a shrine
to Our Lady of Czestochowa, to whom the beloved
Pope John Paul II had a special devotion. The dark
face of the Virgin, called sometimes the “Black Madonna”, attests to the
thousands of candles burned along with prayers offered by the many
pilgrims who have visited the shrine at Czestochowa for over 600 years.
The narthex, formerly referred to as the vestibule, can be entered
through any of the four doors from the parking lot. This large
gathering place is separated from the nave by a set of doors and
glass walls. Initially this was the gathering place for catechumens
who were not yet admitted into the main body of the church
during mass.
On the east side of the narthex is a picture of the Virgin Mary with
Child, a gift from the people of St. Emeric, our sharing parish. On
the west side of the narthex is a picture of the Cardinal Bernardin
School, along with a small statue of St. Joseph, patron of the school
which we share with three other parishes.
P AG E 1 2
St. Stephen Statue
St. Stephen is the patron saint of our parish and his
statue (also designed by Inspired Artisans) has been
placed on a pedestal in front of the daily chapel. Its
location makes it easily visible when exiting the church.
Daily Chapel
The chapel, which seats approximately
50 people, is a place for private prayer
and devotion. There is adoration of the
Blessed Sacrament every Wednesday
following the 8am mass until
benediction at 6:30pm.
Reconciliation Room
Formerly referred to as a confessional, the reconciliation room
provides a private, inviting place for reception of the sacrament of
Penance. Parishioners may choose the traditional method of
reconciliation or the face-to-face method, according to their own
wishes. The reconciliation room is located in the west side of the
nave of the church.
P AGE 1 3
The sacristy on the east side of the building can be accessed from
an entry way off the narthex. There is also direct access into the
nave from the sacristy.
Parish Offices
Also on the east side of the narthex is the wing that contains
various parish offices, kitchen and a conference room.
Education Wing
The wing on the west side of the building contains 19 meeting
rooms and offices for the religious education staff. In the center of
this wing are six rooms with folding, moveable walls that open the
area up to a large meeting room used for various functions in
parish life.
The cornerstone on the outside of the St. Stephen church.
P AG E 1 4
Memorial Brick Gardens
The memorial brick gardens are at the entrance of
the church, on either side of the courtyard. The
memorial bricks surround each statue, with the
Blessed Virgin on the west and St. Joseph with the
Child Jesus on the east. These
statues became available with
the closing of St. Leo Church in
Chicago, and reflect the history
and tradition of that church.
Flower Boxes
Flanking the walkways into the church are 20 flower boxes. The
boxes were designed to cover the concrete foundations (footings)
which will be used in the future to support a stone canopy to cover
the walkways. The main entrance to the building was designed to
include the walkway and will define the formal courtyard with the
Daily Chapel acting as the focal point of the courtyard.
P AGE 1 5
Our Lady of Grace Grotto
At the southern end of the church property is a statue
of Our Lady of Grace (designed by Inspired Artisans).
The quiet, restful site includes a bench to invite
reflection and prayer.
Stations of The Cross
The mosaic stations which surround the statue were removed from
St. Leo parish upon its closing. They are arranged in a semi-circle,
and have been encased in glass as a protection from the elements.
St. Francis Statue
Located at the far southwestern end of the
church property is a statue dedicated to St.
Francis, patron saint of animals.
designed by Inspired Artisans, it has a bench
for private reflection and prayer. This area is
also used for the blessing of pets on the feast
of St. Francis in October.
St. Stephen, Deacon & Martyr
Catholic Church
A Place to Inspire Growth
in Faith and Service
in the Spirit of our Patron,
St. Stephen
St. Stephen church was financed by the
Archdiocese of Chicago on the
commitment of the parish to a Stewardship
program. All parish expenses, both
operating and mortgage expenses, are paid
from the regular Sunday collection. No
pledge drive was held for the church.
Donations to assist in the payment of the
mortgage on the church are most welcome.
Memorial donations to remember a loved
one or for a specific memorial are available.
Memorials are remembered or engraved in
metal plaques on the east side of the
narthex. For information, call the parish
office at 708.342.2400.
17500 South 84th Avenue
Tinley Park, IL 60487
Phone: 708-342-2400
Fax: 708-342-1545
Published—September 2006