Stained glass maker gives thanks by making altar for opening Mass

By Vanessa Claire Lucero |January 24,2016 - 11:23 PM
IEC OPENING/JAN 24,2016: His Eminence Charles Maung Cardinal Bo officiates the opening mass of the International Eucharistic Conference mass at Plaza Independencia in Cebu City. (CDN PHOTO/TONEE DESPOJO)

Intricately carved altar pieces during the opening mass of the International Eucharistic Congress at the Plaza Independencia in Cebu City were provided by former seminarian Glenn Mendiola. (CDN PHOTO/TONEE DESPOJO)

Faith is expressed in many forms.

For stained glass maker Glenn Mendiola, it’s through the loving creation of an altar.

Mendiola, an ex-seminarian from Maasin, Southern Leyte, provided the altar or retablo as well as the lectern and chairs of the presiding bishops for the International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) opening Mass at the Plaza Independencia yesterday.

“Amo ning gihalad balik sa Ginoo (We are offering this back to God),” Mendiola told Cebu Daily News.

The Rococo styled, ivory white retablo is made of fiber glass, mahogany, steel and plywood. On it are carved intricate gold swirls and patterns.

Mendiola said the small designs were the most difficult to carve, as they required very steady hands and herculean patience, but they persevered.

“The venue or location of the IEC opening mass is a historical place in Cebu. Behind it is the Fort San Pedro, a symbol of Hispanic influence, authority and power in our city,” he said.

It was critical for him to be able to portray this in the rendition of the altar, especially because the first IEC held in the Philippines in 1935 was held at another historically significant landmark – Intramuros.

Mendiola was tapped by clients who, having seen and supported his work, wanted him to design an altar for IEC.

Mendiola’s company, Glemend Stained Glass Fabrication Services, designs stained glass windows for churches in the Visayas and Mindanao.

Without a second thought, Mendiola took up the IEC’s offer and started work on the altar in October last year.

“It is a privilege and opportunity. This is a once-in-a lifetime thing. We don’t know when the next IEC will be held here in Cebu,” he said.

All the pieces, estimated to cost more than P1 million, were done for free.

“It is one way for me to thank God for the blessings I’ve received,” he added.

Asked where he plans to put the altar pieces after the IEC, Mendiola said he has two options: either to make a private chapel, where he will put his creations, or sell these to an interested church.

He still needs to seek guidance from the Lord on what to do, he told CDN.

Mendiola has been in the stained glass business for 14 years, servicing churches and chapels in the domestic market. Three years ago, he went into the altar-making business, seeing the demand for it.

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