Story by Brooklyn Waggoner, Reporter
Photo by Adrianna Triche, Photographer
Hidden in the depths of campus, top secret plans are under way. They are carried out stealthily, in the dead of night. Silent preparation for a new epicenter of activity. Okay, maybe that is a bit of an exaggeration. In actuality, everyone knows what’s going down on campus. It isn’t exactly easy to miss the rather expansive construction site in the middle of school grounds. Day in and day out, the progress can be heard all over as the construction crew plow on, erecting a new place of worship for Aquinas.
Physical preparations for the new chapel began in September, and Our Lady Seat of Wisdom is rumored to be finished in the Spring or early Summer. There has been a mixed bag of reactions from the Aquinas community. Particularly in the first handful of weeks, many students were annoyed by the inconvenience of the gated off construction site, which does obstruct two primary routes across campus. However, as time went on, and everyone adjusted to the constant construction presence and singular route from one side of campus to the other, the idea of a new chapel began to sink in. And while some still question the necessity of building another chapel, supporters see great significance in the new building.
One important thing to note is that our little Dominican Catholic school has grown too numerous for little Bukowski to accommodate. Officially, the chapel seats roughly 160, however, even Father Stan admits, “We are frequently in violation of fire codes with the number of students attending Mass.” Truly, to attend mass at Bukowski is to know that a larger space could only be beneficial. Our Lady Seat of Wisdom is said to have the capacity for about 300 attendants.
Robin Housekeeper, a singer in Aquinas’ chorus is eager for the new church saying, “the current chapel was never made to be a chapel. So the one that they are building now will most likely look more like a traditional chapel and there will also be more space.”
Father Stan also mentioned the chapel in relation to Aquinas’ music students. “Aquinas is the only Catholic school in Michigan which offers a degree in Liturgical Music. The Chapel will facilitate this,” he says, excited that the new chapel will be beneficial to not only weekly services, but also students personally.
In fact, students’ personal benefit is another important element to the location and construction of the new building. More than one student has expressed concern in the central location of the construction site, but it is important to note that the grounding of the college’s core spirituality in the center of campus was certainly not arbitrary. The building’s location in the middle of campus is a deliberate invitation to students and community members within and without the Catholic faith to visit the chapel and draw peace and comfort from it.
Father Stan says, “Its location will make it more convenient for a quick ‘drop in’ on the way to class or at a time of stress or grief. It is going to contain an intimate prayer chapel to facilitate this need as opposed to the larger chapel.”
Freshman Kelsey Dassance, a frequent participant in Bukowski services, is particularly excited for the new building saying, “[the new chapel] emphasizes the importance of worship. Aquinas emphasizes the importance of community and faith, and the new chapel will be very helpful in accommodating these charisms … I think it will promote faith on campus.”
And indeed, Our Lady Seat of Wisdom will add great emphasis to the Dominican charisms, prayer, study, service, and community, which have always been the mission of Aquinas College. So while some students bemoan the inconvenience of construction, it is perhaps worth taking the time to consider the new chapel as it will be: a safe place of worship in the heart of campus.