Plan for new chapel delayed due to lack of funds

Kyle Nigro

By 2010, the Our Lady Queen of Peace Chapel on the campus of St. Edward’s University was scheduled to be replaced with a new chapel. But as of 2009, the chapel still stands and there are no signs of new construction on campus.

The chapel, one of the oldest buildings on campus, was to be replaced by a new chapel under the 2010 Master Plan that was developed in 1999.

But in the stagnant economy, the university is having difficulty raising funds to build the new chapel. The campaign for the project requires a lead gift of $3 million.

“Should we receive such a lead gift, a time line would then be set to achieve the balance of the funds,” said Rhonda Cartwright, vice president of Financial Affairs. “Obviously, in today’s environment that has proven difficult.”

At the moment, the university has only raised $1.6 million to go toward the chapel. However, schematics are in progress and are being drawn up by Rick Joy, the architect in charge of the project.

The new chapel would not only serve as a place of worship but also as the new home to Campus Ministry and the Holy Cross Institute. Both are currently located in the Mang house and in various offices around campus.

Currently, the plan is to build a new 11,000 square foot building, with a price tag between $8 and $10 million. But these costs estimates are over two years old.

The money for construction would not come from student tuition but from various fundraising, said Cartwright.

The site for the new project is not the same site that the chapel currently occupies near Trustee Hall. The new building would likely be built over the commuter parking lot, just south of Mary Moody Northern Theater.

Money is not the only thing hindering the new chapel’s progress though. Several students have expressed some concern about the plan for several reasons. Some students said the old chapel has been a place of worship and significant events for so long that to relocate to a new chapel seems wrong.

“It would be ending a tradition here on campus and we have so few of them that I feel taking away ‘Our Lady’ would be a mistake,” said Lauren May, a junior.

The Our Lady Queen of Peace Chapel has resided in the same place since 1897, however it wasn’t until 1948 that it became the official campus chapel. Throughout the years, the chapel has been the location of several marriages and baptisms to students, staff and alumni.