St. Sebastian Parish got a new cross atop its cupola roof. (Submitted photos)

A cross has adorned the top of St. Sebastian Parish, 5400 W. Washington Blvd., Milwaukee, since 1930, following the completion of its present church building. Originally constructed of tin, the cross began deteriorating due to the years of harsh elements. Before installing the lightning protection system that safeguards the current roofing structures, it also became damaged from a lightning strike.

Concerned with its present state, parish leaders decided to construct a new cross. They commissioned the new cross of copper as part of the cupola roof replacement/bell tower restoration project, which included restoring the north wall of the church building.

According to Parish Trustee Rocky Marcoux, the $17,000 cross complements the larger renovation project.

“We recently completed this project and have restored the bell tower as well as the north wall of the church,” he said. “We chose copper for its longevity and enduring beauty. While the cross is copper-colored, eventually it will have the greenish patina due to exposure to the weather.”

A lightning protection aerial sits atop the cross, and the related cabling is concealed from view within the hollow interior of the cross. While St. Sebastian had no information on the designer or construction of the original cross, the new one is remarkably almost identical to the original.

“We are planning to display the old cross in a special case, and we have some volunteers who are planning to make one to house it,” Marcoux said.

Pete Lelinski of Langer Roofing Company in Milwaukee constructed the new cross and its related components.

Marcoux said the metalwork is exquisite in its detail and execution. The craftsmanship and attention to detail demonstrate Lelinski’s talent and his sense of the historical importance of this treasured symbol of the Catholic faith.

“We were so blessed to have our priest, Fr. Peter Patrick (Kameni), bless the new cross … so no one would miss being part of this historic event,” Marcoux said. “Dcn. Jim Matthias did a reflection on the importance of the cross during his homily.”

A crane lifted the cross and related components more than 100 feet above 55th Street in the early morning hours to the top of the bell tower scaffolding.  The cross was installed atop the cupola roof.

“Fr. Peter Patrick also did the blessing of the cross on the cupola while up on the scaffolding,” he said. “I don’t think too many priests would feel comfortable doing that, but he did. I think he surprised many people.”