St. Joseph's New Look Drawing Praise

St. Joseph's New Look Drawing Praise

By Stephen Gawlik
Staff Writer

St. Joseph's Chapel has opened its doors to the Boston College community again, sporting a new look and a host of improvements campus ministers say will help them in their efforts to fulfill the spiritual needs of students, faculty and staff.


St. Joseph's Chapel as it looked shortly after opening in 1961 (above), and during a recent Sunday night Mass. Both photographs were taken from approximately the same angle, indicating some of the changes resulting from last fall's renovation project. (Photo below by Mike Mergen).
Located in the basement of Gonzaga Hall on Upper Campus, St. Joseph's Chapel was closed during the fall semester for a major renovation. The chapel was re-opened in January and served as the venue for the annual ecumenical Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration on Jan. 20.

"This is the result of a lot of planning and hard work by a lot of people here at BC," said Director of Campus Ministry James Erps, SJ. "This project was a success and we are pleased with the outcome."

The chapel, which first opened in 1961, was originally designed so worshippers sat along the length of the building, with windows on the right side. The seating has been reoriented in a semi-circle facing an altar that is now in front of the windows.

The chapel interior has been completely renovated with improved lighting, a refurbished ceiling, new climate control and sound systems and a fresh coat of paint. Other renovations will help limit external noise within the chapel.

A new lectern, altar backdrop, tabernacle and holy water font will be installed in the near future. Fr. Erps said some decorative elements were still under consideration.

St. Joseph's is open throughout the day for worshippers and is available for use by other faith groups on campus.

"It's a very nice place to go and worship, it's very welcoming," said Assoc. Prof. James Fleming, SJ, (LSOE). "As a celebrant you feel very close to the congregation."

Fr. Fleming lives in an Upper Campus residence hall and, along with priests from Campus Ministry and the Jesuit Community, regularly celebrates the Sunday 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. Masses in the chapel. A graduate student at BC during the mid-1980s, Fr. Fleming said he has very pleasant associations with the chapel.

"St. Joseph's has always been a lively place to worship," said Fr. Fleming.

Campus Minister for Liturgical Arts Katherine Leavey said the newly renovated chapel offers an opportunity to enhance the experience of worshipping at BC.

"We want students to have a phenomenal experience here," she said.

"I've never been here when there were empty seats," said Leavey, who directs the Liturgy Arts Group during the Sunday Masses. "St. Joseph's is always a very welcoming community and [these renovations] can only help that."  

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