The initiative is part of a project launched under the auspices of the Office of University Mission and Ministry. Also in the works are a renovation of St. Joseph's Chapel on Upper Campus, and the formation of a committee to foster sacred art and religious symbolism on campus.
According to Vice President for University Mission and Ministry Joseph A. Appleyard, SJ, plans for the new worship space, which he anticipates will draw a variety of campus groups, evolved through a series of discussions with faculty members representing different faiths.
"The idea is to create a space that could be used not only by Catholics and other Christian groups, but also by Muslims, Jews, Hindus and Buddhists," said Fr. Appleyard.
The space - renovated from a largely unused meeting area on the building's ground level - will accommodate approximately 30 individuals and will be outfitted with moveable furniture and storage areas for songbooks and other worship materials. A dedication ceremony will take place in the fall.
St. Joseph's Chapel in Gonzaga Hall, described by Fr. Appleyard as "one of the major liturgical spaces on campus," will reopen later this fall after the completion of extensive renovations. New features will include a small chapel for prayer and reservation of the Blessed Sacrament, a vesting sacristy that will also provide a place for the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and a baptismal font "to remind us that through baptism we enter the Church," Fr. Appleyard explained.
Rev. Tom Slon, SJ, an architect from Scranton, Pa., is working on the project with Architecture Project Manager Thomas O'Connor and Designer/Drafter Christopher Curry of BC's Planning Department.
The refurbished chapel, which can accommodate some 250 people for weekend liturgies, also will be equipped with new lighting, heating, ventilation, air conditioning and handicapped access. Until its completion, the Office of Campus Ministry will arrange alternate spaces on upper campus for weekend liturgies during the fall semester.
Also this fall, a committee appointed by University President William P. Leahy, SJ, comprised of faculty members, administrators and students, will convene to explore and implement the representation of sacred art and religious symbolism on campus. Music Department Chairman Assoc. Prof. T. Frank Kennedy, SJ, will serve as chairman.
"Our physical environment expresses and shapes our ideals," said Fr. Appleyard. "The original buildings of the Chestnut Hill campus gave vivid expression to a centuries-old tradition of Christian religious art, but we haven't done anything comparable in recent years. I think it's a fascinating challenge to try to find ways of expressing our contemporary spirituality in our public spaces."
The group, according to Fr. Appleyard, will build on the work of an earlier committee that examined appropriate religious symbols on campus and issued a report to Fr. Leahy.
Fr. Appleyard said he expects that the art work will be drawn from around the world, and may include commissioned pieces. The goal is to "find examples of the best contemporary and traditional religious art to add to the beauty of our campus and its buildings."
Return to July 20 menu
to Chronicle home page