Summer refresh breathes new spirit into Aquinas chapel


by Carson Storie
Eagle Staff


Many changes took place on campus over the Summer. There are new faces in the faculty, and there is a new dinning company running our cafeteria.
One of the lesser known changes was made to the St. Thomas Aquinas Chapel. Those who have gone to morning Mass this school year might have noticed that a few things are different about the chapel.
This past summer, numerous upgrades were made to give our chapel the look and feel of a real church setting. Etchings were cut out by hand on the glass of the chapel doors to prevent the distraction of people walking by while Mass is taking place.
“The etched glass on the doors provides a greater sense of privacy,” Father Jim Murphy, C.S.B., said.
The bottom half of the walls was painted gray, and the Stations of the Cross were outlined in red paint to make them stand out. A new carpet was put in. New chairs were brought in to replace the old, worn out chairs. New hanging lights, which look like candles, now provide better lighting. There is a new marble base for the chair of the presider of Mass to replace the old wooden and to match the marble around the rest of the altar as well.
There are quite a few reasons for these changes. It is well known that the old chairs in the chapel were in bad condition, and that some of the kneelers were broken.
“Some of the board members and some of the adults that had come in for Mass had complained about the chairs,” Director of Campus Ministry Marty Matulia said. “Kneelers were falling down. We knew we had to replace the chairs.
“When the proposal went out for replacing the chairs, Catherine Badger, mother of senior Carson Badger, came forward and said that she would like to renovate the chapel completely,” Matulia said. “Then, a bunch of donors came forward and said that they would like to support the renovations. People donated around $35,000.”
This is the first time that the chapel in its current location has received any modifications. When the original classroom building was built in 1940, the space that currently serves as the chapel was previously the Hall of Honor. It was not until 2004, after the Hall of Honor was moved into the Moran Fine Arts Center that the chapel as we know it today was constructed. It had remained unchanged until this year.
Many are very pleased with the changes in the chapel.
“There is a more comfortable, prayerful setting,” Murphy said. “As a presider, it is easier to preside.”
Students are also impressed and pleased with the new chapel.
“It is a lot more comfortable to sit at Mass,” Junior Jordan Lawrence said. “You feel closer to the Altar, and you feel closer to the celebration of Mass.”
From the outside, it may just seem that the doors were decorated, but on the inside, a lot has changed. A great deal of work was put into making the chapel have a more serene and tranquil atmosphere.
The St. Thomas Aquinas Chapel is still a place for quiet prayer at any time during the day, and is still the place for daily morning Mass at 7:20.
In celebration of the newly renovated chapel, there will be a rededication Mass on Friday, September 6, in place of regular morning Mass.