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“By the Grace of God We Will Rise”

“By the Grace of God We Will Rise”

By: Sr. Diane Couture

A photo of Sr. Diane Couture – a white woman with short gray hair, wire glasses and wearing a black t-shirt and marron apron – holding a point brush over her stain glass of a brown haired, bearded Jesus
Sr. Diane Couture

Being an artist has been part of me and my family’s life since I was born. I was born into a large family of 10 children and we grew up creating all kinds of woodwork and art pieces, mainly to keep us busy when out of school. The gift to be an artist was there in each of us.

We had many gifts, but one was the gift of creative thinking and the ability to speak our truths through the voice of the art pieces. Creativity and the arts are part of who I am at my deepest core. 

The creative and guiding force of the Art of Stained Glass has become my source of Spirituality, contemplation, and ministry as a woman religious. 

I, through the gifts I have been given, particularly, through the Art of Stained Glass, became a conduit for the voices crying out in our times against poverty, injustice, systemic racism, and the outcry of the “Dear Neighbor.” This is done through the only kinetic art form there is, stained glass, and I design with light. Without light, stained glass is dead and lifeless. Through the art of stained glass, I create movement, atmosphere, and images that reach into the soul of the observer. In the creation of stained-glass windows, I, as Artist, am called to let go and let God lead me on this journey. I become the Contemplative follower. As a Sister of St. Joseph and glass artist I become a voice among many voices. That is why Artists of all kinds should be at the forefront of all movements that we as Sisters of St. Joseph embrace. The artist should always be part of the movement forward.
How blessed I am to be walking this journey. 

Days of the pandemic COVID-19 

All peoples around the world remember the days in February when the world shut down to protect one another from the deadly COVID-19 virus. I remember the fear, confusion, and uncertainty in the hearts and minds of people all around me, including myself. The world was thrown into a state of unknowing and darkness.

I too had to send my staff home and literally shut down the glass studio with the uncertainty that it may never open again. The light of stained glass went dead and, in a sense, so did my heart. 

A stained glass window. In the center is the earth with two hands reaching over the top. One had is below the earth offering a sprouting plant. In the background a dove flys over two hills during the sunrise. Coming out from the wings of the dove are two orange ribbons a that say “BY THE GRACE OF GOD WE WILL RISE” and “COMPASSION”. On the right side of the piece, in green glass, is a hand outstretched with a bowl and spoon. It says: “Dear Neighbor”. Beneath that, in purple glass, there is a stethoscope and As a few days passed, a moment of light came to me that if I got into my truck, drove to the studio and returned straight home at the end of the day I could continue working on some restoration windows we had in the studio at that time – by myself and hidden away from the virus. This became my daily schedule in the studio, filled with quiet and safety and much time reflecting and contemplating on what was happening.

As I worked, reflected, and prayed I felt this voice calling me from within to create a piece on the pandemic. As the days passed, I jotted down images and listened to my inner voice that drew me to focus on the call of these times and the need for all of us to have Hope in the seemingly dark days ahead. That our loving God was one with our fear and uncertainty but would once again send down his healing, strength, and Peace into our world. God is always intertwined and with us in our suffering. He beckoned the Spirit to move across our world and help us, as the days passed, to lean into the darkness and chaos so that we may see light as we travel this journey worldwide. Part of the light emerged in our unsung hero’s such as nurses, medical staff, the dear neighbor outreach, feeding of those who are hungry, transport drivers and mask makers. God called on the gifts of his world to rise and meet the needs of the times. Our tears of suffering will turn into new growth and carry us in the days ahead.

As Sisters of St. Joseph, affiliates, and agrégées this is our time! Our Charism is so desperately needed more so now than ever before. We, from all around the world are and will continue to follow God’s call and “By the Grace of God We Will Rise.” The piece I created on the pandemic speaks this truth and as Sisters, associates, agrégées and those who embrace our mission as Sisters of St. Joseph all around the world, we must continue to embrace the call to oneness as we move together into our future full of Hope.

[Sr. Diane Couture is a Sister of St. Joseph of St. Augustine and director of St. Joseph Ministries Architectural Stained Glass]