GLASSBORO — On Sunday, Nov. 20, as the Jubilee Year of Mercy came to an end, Bishop Dennis Sullivan officially closed the last of the Holy Doors in the Diocese of Camden, just before a noon Mass here at Mary, Mother of Mercy Parish.
For the thousands of pilgrims who passed through the doors of this community during this Jubilee, they knew they could find God’s grace. On one door, an image of the Blessed Mother embracing the world’s children brought comfort. On the other, the word “mercy” or “misericordia” or “pieta” demonstrated God’s outpouring of love on an imperfect world.
What they probably didn’t know was that the individual responsible for those stirring images resides only two miles away, a cradle Catholic who has called the Glassboro church home since birth.
Efren Salugao, Jr., 37 years old, was baptized; made his first holy Communion; was confirmed; and was married at Our Lady of Lourdes Church, which has been a part of Mary, Mother of Mercy Parish for the past five years.
In the middle of last year, the graphic designer was approached by Father William Kelly, the parish pastor, to create the images for the Holy Year, which began last Dec. 8, the feast of the Immaculate Conception.
For Salugao, the decision to take on the task was an easy one to make.
“God has given me many blessings,” he said, including “the ability to create people’s ideas mixed in with mine and create a piece of art, and a beautiful family to share it with.”
Graduating from the Art Institute of Philadelphia in 2002 with a degree in Computer Animation and Graphic Design, he spent over a decade creating signage and artwork for national and local clients, such as the old Camden Riversharks.
Today, as the owner of Expert Visual Solutions, where he uses his gifts to help customers with logos, marketing materials, custom banners, and window/wall graphics, he works from his Sewell home, close to his wife, Janet, and three children Julian, Alaina and Jonas.
As he was, all of his children were baptized at Our Lady of Lourdes Church.
“My kids and wife are my biggest motivation for what I do, as well as having a strong Catholic faith and the love and support of my wife Janet.”
Along with the doors at Mary, Mother of Mercy, he was responsible for the dimensional letters in the church’s vestibule, above the Mary, Mother of Mercy statue, asking her to “Pray For Us,” and for the yard sign in front of the church, proclaiming it as a pilgrimage site during the Jubilee Year of Mercy.
Last Monday, he dismantled the images, printed vinyl applied to three-mill PVC, from the doors, and took down the yard sign. The parish will hold on to his work, now reminders of a year of grace and blessings for thousands of faithful.
Although the doors are now closed, and the church looks to a new liturgical year, the faithful can be assured of God’s continual love, and indeed, share that message with all, Bishop Sullivan told South Jersey’s Catholics last Sunday.
“The door of mercy to Jesus Christ is never closed. Even in our most wretched moments, God gives and extends mercy. And we must be men and women of mercy…(this) should be a habit of life for each follower of Jesus,” he said.