Father Jerry Schetter shakes hands with artist Oscar Velasquez shortly after his original paintings were installed at St. Barbara’s Church in Cloverdale. (Photo submitted)
Father Jerry Schetter shakes hands with artist Oscar Velasquez shortly after his original paintings were installed at St. Barbara’s Church in Cloverdale. (Photo submitted)
CLOVERDALE — St. Barbara Catholic Church in Cloverdale recently installed two original paintings by well known artist Oscar Velasquez. The Sentinel was able to view the two paintings with Father Jerry Schetter and learn about the deeper meaning they hold for the church and its parishioners.

The paintings were officially installed approximately one month ago, with the discussions between the church and Velasquez beginning approximately six months ago. Multiple sketches were submitted by Velasquez, with members of the church viewing hundreds of examples of faith-based paintings for inspiration as well. The dialogue this process created between the artist and the church led to the final vision portrayed on canvas.

“At the time we were debating what to do, and size-wise,” says Schetter. “We had a vision of a painting that was going to be eight feet wide and eight feet tall. Well, we ran into a scenario with the speakers and other electrical components already on the walls. We weren’t sure what to do, and then, I thought, maybe a painting that size would be too much. So we decided, why don’t we do them the same size as our windows, and frame them just as our windows are? And that’s what the paintings became.”

The result is truly unique. No church in the diocese can claim a similar set of paintings presented in such a way.

“They’re meant to draw parishioners into the deeper mystery,” continues Schetter. “There is just no reason to put stain glass windows up with pictures in them if they do not draw the viewer into the mystery. In fact, there is no reason to put stain glass windows into a church at all if they’re just going to be colored glass. The intention has always been to draw one deeper into the mystery of Christ. Paintings or pictures or stain glass windows, from the very beginning, were meant to tell a story.”

“The story is ongoing. It hasn’t stopped just because they told the story 2,000 years ago, or 200 years ago, or 100 years ago. This means that the story is ongoing. So we must constantly remind ourselves of the story. That’s how the orginal windows came about, bringing the story out.”

According to Schetter, he will use the paintings on an ongoing basis to tie-in different messages during his homilies, reflections, talks and other church functions.