Lajitas Chapel stained glass windows get some TLC

LAJITAS – The Chapel of Santos Maria y Jose stands at the edge of a bluff above the Rio Grande at Lajitas. It was built at the turn of the 20th Century to serve the ranch/ trading post/military stop/river crossing there.

Many were Baptized, married, and received their first Communion in that intimate setting. It was a companion to the Santa Inez Church in Terlingua and then a mission of the Presidio church. Now it is a place for Lajitas visitors to spend quiet moments with God, and there is a monthly service by an Episcopal priest.

The building is basically adobe. The roof fell in at one time and the whole shape of the building was reconfigured into the shape of a 17th century mission church. Now it is comfortable and beautiful.

Recently, the stained-glass windows were blessed and consecrated after being replaced by Peggy Phillips, her husband Bill, and Lajitas Golf Resort staff.

Here is Peggy’s story of the first stained glass windows and the new ones in the chapel:

In case there is anyone in that area that is not sure God is alive and well – let me tell you a story. I was an educator until retirement but along the way I had a Stained-Glass Shop in Houston. Stained glass was my hobby and with three sons in college at the same time I opened a stained-glass shop, along with my teaching career.

One day in 1990, Jim Box, a stained-glass customer of mine came in and said, “I have got a glass job to do.” His boss, Walter Mishcher, was building the Lajitas Golf Resort in south Brewster County, and there was this very old chapel right in the middle of the resort grounds. Mr. Box (his VP) wanted to put stain glass in all the windows. I told him I would help. He did the smaller windows around the door, and the two windows behind the pulpit, but when he got to the big windows he needed help. Jim had used the copper foil method for the smaller windows, but the bigger windows needed to be done with lead channel, and he had never done that method. We designed the windows, drew them, and I did three of them by myself; my name is etched at the bottom of the windows. As Jim learned, he got involved and helped with the rest of the seven big windows. I helped him crate them up and put them on Mr. Mischer’s private plane. They were flown out and installed in the chapel. They brought me pictures, but I never had seen the chapel.”

Fast forward to 2018: About four months ago my husband and I were looking at our bucket list, and on mine was to see the chapel at Lajitas. He said—‘Let’s go and do this’. He called for reservations, and told the resort receptionist that his wife had made the glass windows in the chapel and had never seen them installed. We wanted to make reservations to come for a couple of days in August. She got the manager and the manager got on the line and said that they had been looking for me for three months. The windows had hail damage and were in disrepair, and yes please come and see if you can help us. We went, brought one of the windows back to Houston with us, (roughly 600 miles) as I needed to see if I could match the broken glass. We went back in October, spent 3 1/2 days and finished the job. I am 79 years old. After 36 hours working with glass, my hands were cut, thumb damaged, fingers swollen, but the job was done.

Mr. Box passed away about four years ago, but I know he would be proud that the windows were repaired and I was beyond proud. So many coincidences? I don’t think so – God had a plan and had not forgotten The Lajitas Chapel.”