For the last 25 years, a weather-worn bronze rendering of the Divine Savior Jesus Christ, has stood against an outside wall of the chapel at the Sisters’ North American Province headquarters, adjacent to Divine Savior Holy Angels (DSHA) High School in Milwaukee.
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With the many people passing the statue daily, the sculpture is admired as a reminder of the Salvatorians’ commitment to making Christ the Savior known to all people, according to Sister of the Divine Savior Carol Thresher, SDS provincial.
The statue, commissioned by the Society of the Divine Savior, religious priests and brothers also known as Salvatorians, was designed and cast in Rome by Austrian artisan Ferdinand Seeboeck. For years it stood in the heart of Salvatorian Seminary in St. Nazianz, in the Green Bay Diocese.
The seminary closed in 1968, re-opened as JFK Prep School for 14 years, and then in 1986 the property was sold. At that time, the Salvatorian men bestowed the statue to the Salvatorian Sisters in gratitude for their years of cooking and cleaning for the priests, brothers and seminary students. At that time, it was moved to its current location in Milwaukee.
Recently a group of former St. Nazianz students, including David Wanner, class of ’53, who owns Wanner Sculpture Studio in Milwaukee, John Aschenbrener ’57 and Jerry Brandl ’54 gathered to discuss restoring the statue. It was originally designed to be viewed from all angles, and several of these alumni feel its present location lacks the prominence it deserves as a work of art and a symbol of faith. They are leading the effort to have the statue moved and restored to reveal its fine sculptural qualities.
They appealed to their fellow classmates in raising funds to build a sturdy and aesthetically pleasing base, sandblast and apply new patina, and install appropriate lighting.
As the men met to discuss restoring the statue, they approached Sr. Carol and Salvatorian development director Lora Rosenbaum. Their planning meeting became a walk down memory lane as they reminisced about their school days and it ignited the idea for an alumni reunion in conjunction with a statue rededication ceremony.
As a result, the Salvatorian Sisters will host a Mass to rededicate the Divine Savior statue on Monday, Aug. 1 to be followed by a reunion of former classmates of the Salvatorian Seminary in St. Nazianz.