Designed by Ray Day
for Our Lady of Perpetual Help
Catholic Church
New Albany, Indiana

Father Eric scooped water from the upper basin and poured it over the baby's head. "Faith, I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit."

As Dustin and Lindsey Driskell heard these words on Sunday, October 25th, they experienced the joy of Catholic parenting. Their little girl, Faith, became a "child of God."

What made it different this event so special? It was the first baptism performed in the church's new font.

Last November, Fr. Eric assembled a committee to discuss the creation of a new baptismal font. An anonymous contribution had been received specifically for this purpose. The committee included Carol Aemmer, Sandy Bierly, Ray Day, Greg Ernstberger, Karen Johnson, Jeanette Kannapel, Peggy Osborne, Jeff Powell, and Dots Wild.

Together we discussed the theology of Baptism and came to a consensus regarding location, size, materials, and display of the Holy Oils. The design concept I presented that evening was well received and Father Eric immediately sent it to the architects for implementation.

There are four basic elements to the design.

  1. A "semi-immersion" pool was chosen due to its sanctuary location and to have the water visible to the congregation. On Holy Saturday, adult baptismal candidates will stand or kneel in the shallow water as water is poured over them.
  2. The cruciform shape reflects the shape of our church. At the head of the cross stands the "upper pool" for infant baptisms. It provides a visual balance to the ambo on the opposite side of the sanctuary.
  3. The River Jordan is symbolized by allowing water to flow from the upper basin and continue through the lower pool toward the congregation.
  4. The Ambry under the upper pool is a repository for the Holy Oils.

Parishioner architect Ed Jerdonek of Luckett & Farley Design Build, LLC, and architect Donald K. Ball are responsible for engineering the project. Some of the black marble came from the original Communion rail that surrounded the sanctuary from 1966 until 1981.

Construction began in August and was officially completed on October 21. Charlie Gardner, Director of the Office of Worship for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, commented on the "unique design that you will not find in any other church but that fits so well both with this church building and with the style of ancient baptismal fonts." How beautifully symbolic that the first child Fr. Eric baptized was named Faith, for it is in "faith" that we are all baptized into the Body of Christ.

The Holy Spirit provided a unique thread of continuity in the timing of Faith's baptism and the new font. One day earlier, the funeral liturgy for fifty-eight year old Ricky Baumann was held. His parents were charter members of the parish. On the morning of the first Mass, December 24, 1950, in the "original church," Ricky was the first baptism in the first OLPH baptismal font.

I am also a charter member of the parish, and I thank Fr. Eric and the people of Perpetual Help Church, for allowing me the honor of participating in this project.

The font was officially blessed on Sunday, January 10, 2010, the feast of the Baptism of the Lord.

Following the ceremony, I had Fr. Eric Augenstein pose at the font with me. We are both quite proud of the result.