Works of art have been popping up all over the parking lot at St. Cletus Parish lately. And the messages that accompany them have brought happiness to those visiting the church in St. Charles.
That’s been Jill Joeckel’s hope in creating the inspirational chalk art, including images of the Blessed Mother, saints, Scripture quotes and other inspirational messages. The St. Cletus parishioner and freshman at Lindenwood University has been drawing outside of church since mid-April.
“I wanted people to know I’m thinking about you, and that God is still there,” she said. “God has a plan.”
On a recent afternoon, Joeckel sat on the asphalt pavement as she drew an image of St. Corona, which was accompanied by hand-written facts about the saint. While information about St. Corona’s patronage and her existence has been debated, Joeckel was inspired by an image she saw on Instagram. In turn, others have been sharing Joeckel’s artwork on social media outlets.
Laura Henderson passed by on her way to church, and stopped to admire Joeckel’s handiwork. The coordinator of religious education said Joeckel’s messages are inspiring. “The one that spoke to me the most was your note about change can be good,” Henderson said. “It has been a highlight seeing it. I look forward to it.”
Art has been Joeckel’s hobby. The 2019 graduate of Incarnate Word Academy took art classes while in high school, including a senior art internship. While she’s created with other media, chalk is something new for her.
While at home from college, Joeckel and a neighbor began taking “socially distanced” walks together. The two have drawn on their sidewalks and driveways, inspired by the #chalkyourwalk hashtag on social media.
Staying at home because of the pandemic has helped her relationship with God to flourish, she said, even with the temporary suspension of public Masses. “There’s been more time to sit back and pray and focus on my relationship with Him,” she said. Then the chalk art came along. “My mom and I were talking, and she said, sometimes the Holy Spirit just takes your hand and guides you,” she said. “That’s what I think has happened with the chalk art. I’ve been very blessed.”
Joeckel plans to study social work at Lindenwood. She’s been involved in the university’s Newman Center, and was on a Newman-sponsored spring break trip to Kentucky in mid-March when the university announced that campus was going to temporarily close. She remains active with the Newman Center through an online faith sharing group and will attend a virtual Bible study this summer.
St. Cletus resumed public Masses on May 18, and prior to that the church had been open for prayer and confessions. Joeckel has received positive comments from people visiting the church. Of course, it’s always a disappointment when the rain comes and washes away the art, but that’s a bit like life — things don’t always last forever.
“Especially the ones that took so long,” she said. “With chalk, once you put it down you can’t erase it until the rain washes it away. But that’s like life — you have to deal with what you have. It’s been therapeutic for me to work through that.”