Mercyhurst Magazine Spring 2014

Chapel due for ’facelift’

By Sue Corbran

’ Mercyhurst s Christ the King Chapel has been the heart of the campus since 1933. Now more than 80 years old, the beloved chapel needs a facelift. Nothing too drastic. No major changes to the architecture or overall look of the campus landmark. Just a new coat of paint, maybe a new fnish for the wooden pews, and defnitely a new lighting system to show of the iconic mural that surrounds the sanctuary. “ We have a beautiful chapel here and it s very important to our mission and to who we are, says President Dr. Tom Gamble . We have an obligation not only to preserve what we ve been given, but to pass it on to future generations better than we found it. ’ ” “ ’ ” Few things rile up Mercyhurst alumni like rumors of change to the chapel. From early graduates who remember May Crownings and graduations in the chapel to younger alums returning to marry there, every generation feels a special connection to the chapel. ’ So when Msgr. David Rubino, Ph.D. , vice president for external afairs, asks for donations to fund a planned chapel restoration, he quickly stresses that hes not proposing signifcant changes. We simply want to fnd ways to enhance what we already have, he says. “ ” ’ When Mercyhurst opened in 1926, the Sisters of Mercy were deep in debt and reluctantly put of thoughts of a chapel at the east end of Old Main. More than fve years passed before the O’Neil family donated the money to build the chapel and the adjoining tower that now bears its name. The project was completed in 1933. Two years later, the Queens Chapel was added to the north, and the huge fve walled mural was painted behind the altar. - ’ Fr. Jim Piszker , chaplain at Mercyhurst since 1998, says that s as it should be. Trying to change this Gothic space into something modern just wouldn t work, he says. This architecture is timeless and so much identifed with Mercyhurst. I can t imagine doing anything that would disrupt that. “ ’ ” ‘ ’ ” The chapel still looks very much like it did then, except for modifcations in the wake of Vatican II – removal of the communion rail and addition of a forward-facing altar. Tentative plans call for Christ the King Chapel to close in mid- November and reopen by mid-April 2015, in time to host Baccalaureate Masses for the Class of 2015. While the restoration goes on, Sunday Mass will be celebrated in nearby Taylor Little Theatre, and daily Masses in Prince of Peace Chapel. To learn more about the project, or to make a donation, contact Msgr. Rubino at 814-824-3034 or .

- Visit to learn about other special features of Christ the King Chapel. Turn the page for an up close look at the mural.


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