Sacred Art

Erin and Colleen Garlock's new book peers into the city's history of stained glass windows.

Colleen Garlock realized her husband, Erin, had a knack for photography when her co-workers kept stopping by to admire her screensaver: photos of stained glass church windows he'd taken during their 2008 honeymoon in Ireland. A year later, when the Diocese of Cleveland announced that many of its churches would have to close, she and Erin saw an opportunity to use his photographic talent and their combined writing skills to serve their fellow Catholics.

The result is Rosary Illuminations (Sacred City Productions, $19.99), a 112-page book that features Erin's photos of stained glass windows from local churches — many of which are now closed — to illustrate the 20 events in the life of Christ that constitute the scriptural rosary.

The book's 46 stained glass photographs — more than half of which are from shuttered churches — provide people with a memento of the place where they long gathered to worship.

The faith aspect of the book, Erin points out, is even more important. He chose the word "hope" to open the book, and gave it prominence on the back cover too.

He says hope is inherent in the rosary, which the book helps people explore by guiding them through meditations (authored by the couple) and scripture selections.

Colleen says finding the right windows to depict the rosary stories was a particular challenge.

"It was like a scavenger hunt in stained glass," she says, noting that local priests were very helpful in the search.

For the Garlocks, who both work full time, making the most of their spare time was key to completing the book. Erin sorted and edited photos on a tiny laptop during his 40-minute bus ride from Mentor-on-the-Lake to his downtown job as a computer

As the book neared completion, the Garlocks gave themselves a crash course in publishing and discovered they could do it themselves. They formed a company, Sacred City Productions, and made Rosary Illuminations available for purchase via Amazon.

The book, written and designed by the couple over a 2 1/2-year period, is both spiritual and, for those whose churches have closed, therapeutic.

"It was very moving," says Colleen, who met many of the parishioners while accompanying Erin to photo sessions. "You could feel the sorrow the people were experiencing in losing their parish."

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