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The Journal Gazette

  • Sunlight bathes the chapel's interior, where Sister Martha Ann, left, and Sister Duane talk after Wednesday's ceremony. (Photos by Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette)

  • Guests gather outside the newly opened chapel at the University of Saint Francis during a blessing ceremony Wednesday. The chapel was part of the nearly $23 million Faith and Reason capital campaign.

Thursday, October 04, 2018 1:00 am

University heralds new chapel

200 attend St. Francis blessing ceremony

ASHLEY SLOBODA | The Journal Gazette

As University of Saint Francis officials planned a freestanding chapel at the heart of campus, they debated whether to include a choir loft.

By mid-afternoon Wednesday, university President Sister Elise Kriss knew they were right to include it.

She and more than 200 others – including students, faculty, staffers and donors – gathered inside the newly constructed chapel for a blessing ceremony. It was closed to media.

“It was very joyous,” Kriss said, noting it included incense and music.

Following the event, attendees continued the celebration at a reception featuring snacks and keepsake ornaments for the taking.

People stopped Kriss to compliment the festivities.

“Beautiful ceremony,” one woman said.

“Lovely,” added another.

The chapel seats about 250, more than triple the capacity of the previous chapel in Trinity Hall, university officials have said.

Daily Mass will be held there at 11:30 a.m., Kriss said.

Community members may also attend a presentation about the building at 7 p.m. today by university chaplain David Meinzen. He is expected to share the significance of its location, architecture and iconic imagery.

Visible from both Spring Street and Leesburg Road, the chapel sits on the campus' highest point along Mirror Lake between academic buildings. It represents what Saint Francis is as a Catholic university, Kriss said.

“We can bring faith and reason together,” she said.

The chapel was part of the nearly $23 million Faith and Reason capital campaign, which includes an expansion and renovation of Achatz Hall of Science. Work remains underway there.

Some finishing touches are still planned for the chapel, Kriss said: stained-glass windows. That, however, requires more fundraising, she said.