Chapel, campus ministry building undergo major face lifts

The alter at the Our Lady Queen of Peace Chapel. 

Dating from 1897, the Our Lady Queen of Peace Chapel is the oldest building on campus that has yet to undergo renovations. But within the next month, the chapel and Mang House are going to be given a long-awaited face lift.  

Plans for the renovations will start around the beginning of October as part of the campaign titled A Special Destiny: The Campaign for St. Edward’s University. Currently. The renovations for both Mang House and the chapel are set to be finished at the start of the 2014-2015 school year. With many buildings being built and renovated around campus , such as the new Munday Library, students are thankful for the University’s interest in updating worship centers as well as academic buildings.

“I am thankful that they also care that there are people who need to be nourished spiritually. They care about our spaces too,” senior Matthew Aragones said.

The chapel has a unique history; it has been used as everything from a firing range to a bowling alley and was finally made into a chapel in the 1940s. While some students expressed concern about changing the chapel, the renovations are actually trying to return the chapel to its original nature and atmosphere. The carpets are being taken out to reveal the original wood. The seating is being configured in a more effective way to accommodate more people attending services.

“Change is good but difficult. The space we are getting is very beautiful and will allow us to have more opportunities to be visible on campus,” Father Peter Walsh said.

Mang House has become a type of second home for students who are heavily involved in campus ministry. It was originally built for seven Dominican priests, so there is a very homey and comforting feel to the house.

“I have qualms about the new building. It was home. It will just be an adjustment,” Aragones said.

But the style of house comes with limitations in how campus ministry can serve students. The plans for Mang House include a complete tear down of the original structure and in its place a meditation garden will be built. The new campus ministry building will be attached to the chapel.

“The space that is attached is more of a multi-purpose area. The space now isn’t flexible,” Walsh said.

The meditation garden is one of the key aspects of the renovation plans. It will be a place where students of all backgrounds and religion can come to unwind or pray. It will be in a highly central area of campus so that all students can enjoy the benefits of the garden.

“The oak tree in the back of Mang House will be the center piece of the garden,” Walsh said. 

While these renovations are being done, campus ministry has to undergo massive changes themselves. Mass is now being held in Jones Auditorium, various prayer services are being held in St. Joseph Hall and the campus ministry offices are now being housed in the third floor of Doyle. The new places for worship have deepened the community of campus ministry.

“Community has always made our worship. That community remains the same in Jones as it is in the chapel,” Aragones said.