Commons Converted To Chapel
Published: Thursday, February 28, 2013
Updated: Thursday, February 28, 2013 01:02
When construction began on St. Mary’s at the beginning of this semester, a new space was needed for a chapel on Middle Campus. Staffed by the Jesuit community, the chapel in St. Mary’s offered Mass several times a day during the week, as well as Mass every Sunday. During the two years of construction, however, there will be no use of the building, and that prayer space will be closed.
At the beginning of the year, Gasson Commons underwent modifications to change it from a study space to a chapel. The Gasson Commons Chapel, as it is called, offers Mass three times a day during the week and once every Sunday. Although the atmosphere in the Gasson Commons is not the same as St. Mary’s, administrators have responded positively to the change.
“People are pleased with the placement of the new chapel in Gasson,” said Vice President for Mission and Ministry Rev. Jack Butler, S.J. “The numbers seem to be coming back to what the numbers were prior to the move.”
David Quigley, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, explained that the move to Gasson was the most sensible solution.
“The University was interested in maintaining a central space for worship for the two years that St. Mary’s is being renovated, and Gasson was the best solution both for members of the campus community and for those neighbors who’ve regularly attended morning services over the years,” Quigley said in an email.
Although the Jesuit community still provides the priests to say Mass, the scheduling of the space has shifted from the minister’s office in the Jesuit community to Campus Ministry in the University.
One of the concerns with the relocation was the loss of the Commons as a study space. Both Butler and Quigley have not seen this as a problem with the recent opening of Stokes.
“I think this relocation has worked well, in large part because the opening of Stokes has substantially increased the amount of space available for students and faculty in A&S,” Quigley said.
Although the location is atypical for a chapel, Butler found that the student feedback he had received was entirely positive.
“I’m amazed how many people love having it in that space,” Butler said. “They love the stained glass windows and the way it is set up. The space is conducive to a chapel. You have the statue of St. Michael the Archangel in the rotunda. There is an august flavor that enhances the ambiance, the sanctity. I think it works for what we are asking it to do for a couple of years.”
Both Butler and Quigley said that the chapel in Gasson was only a temporary situation and that it would revert to its original purpose upon the reopening of St. Mary’s.