No sooner did renovation of the retirement wing finish up at the Province Center, than new landscaping was installed around the wing. Newly planted bushes, ground cover and a cluster of trees now dot the perimeter that once was sparse.

New landscaping on the east side of the Province Center. (Photo by Fr. Charles Bolser)

Residents of the wing are pleased with the new plantings, making their view of the outdoors just as lovely as the newly remodeled living areas of the wing.

“There was nothing there before,” said Fr. Donald Fitzsimmons, CSV.

Amid all of the greenery stands a featured sculpture: a large, abstract piece created by Viatorian artist, Fr. Raymund Novacek, CSV.

Fr. Novacek spent 22 years teaching at Spalding Institute in Peoria before teaching art for one year, in 1973, at Saint Viator High School. He would go on to serve on the Province Formation Team and as Director of Novices for the next nine years, but at the same time he continued to create his art.

Fr. Raymund Novacek with one of his sculptures

Fr. Novacek had majored in art and philosophy at St. Ambrose College before entering the seminary. His art seemed to reflect his expressive spirituality, and he used a variety of media to share his vision, including wood cuts, prints, textile art and sculpture.

Fr. Novacek’s sculptures and prints can be found throughout the Province Center, including two large works in the dining room. With the newly planted landscaping now in place, it serves to heighten his work — and reflect his love of art and philosophy in motion.

Fr. Novacek died suddenly in 1987, at the age of 60, in his room at St. Viator Parish in Chicago. Just months earlier, he designed a wood cut for the community Christmas card, calling it “Love Creates Hope.”

Large metal sculpture by Fr. Novacek in the Province Center dining room

“He knew that to be his personal truth,” said Fr. Patrick Render, CSV, in a letter shortly after his death, “and in his gentle sensitive and caring way he helped others to discover that for themselves.”

Pillar of Fire by Fr. Raymund Novacek