It was in 2012 that parishioners at St. George Parish in Bourbonnais — in appreciation for an abundant crop that fall — raised $45,000 for a new stained glass window of their patron saint. It was installed the next summer and now is one of the most inspiring images in the church.

St. George stained glass window, created by the Conrad Schmitt Studios in New Berlin, WI

It is visible both inside and outside and stands as a reminder of the sacrifice of their patron saint, whose feast day is today. As far as historians can tell, St. George was a Roman soldier of Greek origin and an officer in the guard of Roman Emperor Diocletian. When the emperor announced he would not allow any Christians in the army, St. George refused to comply and he was executed.

St. George now is recognized as a martyr and saint, revered around the world, especially in England where he is its patron saint. He often is depicted slaying a dragon, as he is in the stained glass image at the front of the church.

The window was commissioned under the leadership of Fr. Dan Belanger, CSV, Pastor. Fr. Dan has led the parish since 2009 and yet on May 4, parishioners will bid him farewell at a Cinco de Mayo party after the 5 p.m. Mass. This summer, he will begin a new assignment as Parochial Vicar of St. Viator Catholic Community in Las Vegas.

Fr. Patrick Render, left, with Fr. Daniel Belanger

However, St. George will continue to remain a Viatorian parish, with Fr. Patrick Render, CSV, stepping in as administrator of the parish. In addition, St. George will benefit from a team ministry approach, with Viatorians collaborating to provide sacramental ministry to its three parishes in the Bourbonnais/Kankakee region — Maternity BVM, St. George and St. Patrick.

St. George Church

“I filled in during the months of (Fr. Dan’s) sabbatical last year and came to know the people and the positive energy of the parish,” Fr. Render says. “I am happy that a collaborative effort among the Viatorians in the region will allow us to continue serving the people there. I will serve as administrator but I am hopeful that the parish will benefit from the ministry of all of the associates and professed in the region.”

Fr. Render points to the long history of Viatorians serving the parish — nearly 120 years — and he is happy to help continue that legacy.

“The parish has grown in recent years under Fr. Dan Belanger’s leadership,” he adds, “and so it is good that we can continue to build on his accomplishments.”