Paintings blessed at St. Catherine of Siena

Bishop Carl A. Kemme blessed the murals and paintings of saints in the lobby of St. Catherine of Siena’s Parish Education Center in Wichita on All Saints Day, Nov. 1. (Courtesy photos)

Like any faithful parishioner, Linda Wallace said yes when her pastor asked for help.

It didn’t hurt that her pastor, Fr. Dan Spexarth, is her brother.

Wallace said Fr. Spexarth talked to her a little over six years ago about his ideas to honor Dominican saints in the lobby of St. Catherine of Siena’s Parish Education Center.

Father chose the images

“He had already picked the saints and the images he wanted,” she said. “So I visited with him and came up with sketches for him to approve or disapprove – and I painted them.”

After the stretchers and frames were constructed “by some wonderful gentlemen,” she said she stretched the canvasses and primed them. “I took a picture that day. It was August of 2016. That’s when I started painting the first large mural. There was a lot of life in between.”

Fr. Spexarth never pushed her to hurry, she said, and there were no deadlines. “He was very generous about allowing me the time to complete it.”

Bishop Carl A. Kemme blessed the murals of the saints looking down from near the ceiling of the Parish Education Center on Nov. 1, All Saints Day. There are three large murals of Saint Catherine, who was a member of the Third Order of St. Dominic, along with eight murals of other Dominican saints. The three large murals are of pivotal scenes in St Catherine’s life. The other saints depicted are St. Dominic, St. Agnes of Montepulciano, St. Thomas Aquinus, St. Albert the Great, St. Rose of Lima, St. Martin de Porres, St. Pope Pius V, and St. Raymond of Penafort.

Knights took part in ceremony

The Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus carried the final painting after the evening Mass to the education center to be hung for the blessing.

Wallace said she hopes the paintings will inspire the children who look at them to study the lives of the saints so that they, too, will become saints. “I did a lot of research for each painting and included things hoping they might ask: Why is that in there?” she said.

Wallace has a degree in graphic design and has been painting her entire life. She and her husband, Terry, have four children, and twin granddaughters.

Clista Pfannenstiel, the parish’s director of Stewardship, said she believes the entire project was driven by the Holy Spirit.

“Who would have thought six years ago that Linda would finish the final painting with the divine timing for Bishop Kemme to bless them on All Saints’ Day?” she said.