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Pallotine Sisters honored with sculpture

Martha Sparks msparks@civitasmedia.com

September 27, 2013

Family and friends of the late Vito and Mary Esposito gathered Saturday, September 21, at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Logan for the dedication of a commissioned sculpture.


The sculpture, dedicated in the couple’s memory, honored the Sisters of the Pallottine Order who served in the Logan area parish from 1943 until 1982.


The large relief sculpture was placed in the entrance of the Parish Hall and depicts an image of Logan during the service the Sisters offered to the area. The focus of the piece is three nuns and two children that are almost 3-D. The background of the piece depicts an image of the St. Francis Catholic Church to the left of the nuns. To the right, there is a small coal camp built beside a railroad with a coal tipple on the mountain and in the middle of the piece is the old Water Street Bridge with the coal-fired power plant and smoke stack.


Patrick Esposito, a son of Vito and Mary, said that a statue was the original idea when the family began discussing something to honor their parents with.


“From that thought process we thought that it would be nice if we could create something beyond that… something that has so many dimensions to it so that every time you look at it you see something different,” Esposito said.


Esposito said the idea to honor the nuns and their roll in the area came from his brother Michael.


“They played such an important part for decades… from the forties to the eighties,” Esposito said. “We basically wanted to show what we remember them doing and recognizing all the important parts of the community… the coal tipple, the coal camp, downtown Logan, the church, the old bridge, all those important components that made Logan, as well as Southern West Virginia, so dynamic during the forties, fifties and sixties.”


Esposito said the Sisters support and love went beyond the church during their service to the area and that was the idea behind the sculpture.


“We wanted to do something in loving memory of our parents, not only for the church, but also for the area,” Esposito said.


The sculpture was designed and made by former Oceana native Jamie Lester.


“My brother John had someone else in mind and I told him that we had someone from Southern West Virginia, someone from Wyoming County, that I think is a great artist,” Esposito said. “Jamie has done some other things that I think you may recognize… His design for the New River Bridge was selected to represent West Virginia in the state quarters. He did the Jerry West statue that is outside the WVU Coliseum and he just recently did a large piece for the Boy Scouts that was placed down at Summit.


Esposito said it was a collaborative effort between him and Lester in designing the piece, to which Lester agreed.


Lester said Esposito contacted him about his idea about the Sisters and they discussed doing a statue or sculpture.


“At that time we didn’t know what kind of form it would take,” Lester said. “We were looking at large-size statue that would be freestanding and people could walk around in the middle of the room. That would have been nice, but we threw out the idea of doing a relief wall that should be a kind of narrative wall.”


Lester said he wanted it to be an open-ended narrative.


“Something that people growing up here could look at and say ‘Oh, I remember this,’” Lester said.


The Parish Hall will be open Saturdays from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. for public viewing of the sculpture.