Grant will fund icon project at Saint Meinrad

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Sr. Jeana Visel, OSB, an iconographer and the director of the Graduate Theology Program at Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology, St. Meinrad, IN, has received one of 17 Teacher-Scholar grants from the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship for 2021-22.

She will receive $18,000 for a project that will bring a master iconographer to campus to create a portable iconostasis that will allow for Byzantine Catholic liturgies to be celebrated in the school’s main chapel.

The funds will help Sr. Jeana and the worshiping community of Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology to grow in knowledge and appreciation of the theology and spiritual practices of iconography and Byzantine-style worship.

The project will engage the expertise of master iconographer Marek Czarnecki to create six icons for a moveable iconostasis for the seminary chapel. An iconostasis is a screen of religious paintings that separates the nave from the sanctuary in a church.

As part of the project, Czarnecki will come to campus, for four week-long visits, to work on the icons as an artist-in-residence. Students will be able to watch him work and to ask questions.

He also will give a lecture during each visit, addressing the importance of future priests and lay ministers knowing how to engage beauty in worship spaces, and delving into the particular meaning of the icons being created for the school chapel.

During the summer, Sr. Jeana and Fr. Denis Robinson, OSB, president-rector of the school, would visit Czarnecki’s studio in Meriden, CT, or one of his scheduled icon painting workshops for a week of more focused tutorial in ecclesial arts.

Sr. Jeana will work this experience into her teaching on icons during the seminarians’ Intensive Spiritual Formation Week. Fr. Denis, who is able to preside at both Catholic and Byzantine Catholic liturgies, will use this experience to prepare students for Byzantine liturgy.

This year’s recipients of the Calvin Institute grants include scholars at three research universities, five seminaries, and nine private colleges and universities, representing 10 U.S. states and one Canadian province. Each grant (ranging from $12,000 to $18,000) will fund a research project beginning in 2021 that shows promise to serve worshiping communities by strengthening Christian public worship practices.