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A family’s memorial gift is caught in the crossfire over St James the Great, Newport Beach

A family’s memorial gift is caught in the crossfire over St James the Great, Newport Beach

Stained glass windows in churches have served as opportunities in more ancient times to teach biblical lessons to Christians who could not read. In modern times they can be focal points for meditation and prayer and are often memorial gifts honoring the departed dead. This rose window in the chancel of St James the Great, Newport Beach does both, it teaches the story of the Gifts of the Spirit and it memorializes the personality of the young boy it was given to remember. In the center, the Holy Spirit, represented as the dove, descends and the nine petals radiating around the center represent love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

11206593_929481007074231_665049468514526809_oPatrick Lyon was eight when he died in 1971 after a battle with cancer, lymphosarcoma. His family had been members of St James the Great parish since moving to Newport Beach from Pasadena in 1962. His father, Richard Lyon, now 92, spoke with his pastor about making a memorial gift honoring Patrick’s life and they settled on a beautiful rose window to replace a bare wall covered by a drapery. In 1971 US dollars the gift cost $1,200. To the family and many in the displaced congregation which until recently used the building as their church home, it could be priceless.

The mission congregation that most recently occupied the building has been dissolved by the bishop and the property is in a contested legal state at the moment as the Rt Revd J Jon Bruno attempts to sell the property for a housing development. However, he is in a legal battle with the 1945 donor of the property, the Griffith Co. The land was donated to the Diocese of Los Angeles with the proviso that it was to perpetually be the site of a church. However, Bishop Bruno contends that the Griffith Co agreed to remove the proviso in the 1980s, but quietly reneged on the agreement and, unknown to +Jon, never made the necessary change to the legal documents governing ownership of the property.

So today the memorial rose window’s future lies in the land dispute and Dio LA’s plans. Originally a family of eight, the Lyons would be happy to remove the window from the property and have it placed at one of the local health facilities which also played a part in caring for Patrick during his illness; Hoag Hospital or Children’s Hospital of Orange County. However, to date, Val Lyon, Patrick’s older brother who was 15 at the time of Patrick’s death, has not been able to speak to anyone in the diocese regarding the disposition of the window. The letters between Val’s dad and the parish are plain that the intentions for the window at the time of the donation was that it would be a permanent memorial. Since it’s installation, the beauty of the window when enhanced by just natural light has served as an icon to members of the parish, according the the most recent vicar of the congregation, the Revd Canon Cindy Voorhees. The family would cherish extending that significance by moving the window to a new location. As it stands, the window is a bitter sweet memory for Val Lyon whenever he passes the building.

The images are from the former mission church’s Facebook page.
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Michael Secour

I was the organist and music director at St. James when this window was installed back in the 1970s. I am appalled that Bishop Bruno is trying to sell this invaluable property for profit. I pray for the success of the original donor and the congregation of St. James as they do battle with a very misguided shepherd.

JC Fisher

[Apropos this beautiful window] “More Light, Lord! Grant More Light!”

Reconciliation to all, in God’s Good Time…

James Newman

Bishop Bruno will be remembered as the Bishop Bennison of Los Angeles.

David Knudtson

Article 16 of the 39 comes to mind whenever I read the back and forth about Saint James and +Bruno. 🙂

Eric Bonetti

How very sad. While disposition of memorials is a common challenge when a church is sold or closed, to lose one’s child and have this as a reminder must be terribly painful. My heart goes out to the family.

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