January 4, 2017 // Local

Bishop blesses new Fort Wayne friary chapel

A former energy generation and distribution facility on property now serving as the home of Our Lady of Angels Friary, has been converted to a small prayer chapel called “The Portziuncula.” The chapel was blessed and its altar consecrated by Bishop Rhoades on Dec. 29.

By Brother Joseph Maria, Our Lady of Peace, FFM

Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades blessed a new chapel and consecrated the altar at Our Lady of the Angels Friary in Fort Wayne on Dec. 29. The chapel bears the name of the first Franciscan Friary established in Assisi by St. Francis in 1209; “Our Lady of the Angels Chapel.” Due to its smallness the original chapel was commonly known as “The Portziuncula.” In the old Italian dialect it means “The Little Portion.” The friars of Fort Wayne have thus dubbed their chapel “The Portziuncula.”

Mass was concelebrated by Father David Mary of Our Lady of Sorrows, FFM, with every member of the Franciscan Friars Minor in attendance. Also attending the liturgy were the property owners, who are members of the Tippman family; associates of the Mary Cross Tippman foundation, which funded most of the project; and others who contributed to the bulk of the manual labor by way of resources and manpower.

The 48-seat chapel was nearly filled to capacity as the procession started Thursday morning.

The before shot.

A beautiful liturgy ensued, quietly orchestrated by Brother Leo Maria of the Mother of Mercy, FFM, who coordinated the sacred rites as master of ceremonies. Bishop Rhoades gave a powerful homily wherein he spoke of “the miracle of the Eucharist” as “the fruit of Jesus’ sacrifice,” which brings its participants into “union with Jesus Christ and with one another.” Father David Mary spoke of a different sort of miracle in his notes of gratitude at the end of Mass, emphasizing the miracle of the chapel’s completion amidst the formation work and the myriad apostolic endeavors of the friars who were working on the project alongside the generous friends and benefactors of the community. Our Lady of the Angels Friary is situated in an area of Fort Wayne where those in need can easily be reached. Ministry to these poor people, along with countless outreaches to the youth, many parish missions, evangelization efforts across the country and even into foreign lands, and several other services rendered unto the people of God have kept the friars from getting into a consistent work regimen. This was a significant reason why the project took over three years to complete.

One could say they saved the least for last, with the blessing of this chapel coming at the end of the 2016 calendar year. In his thank-yous at the end of Mass, Father David Mary drew from our Lord’s words in the gospel of Matthew, “…as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me.” (Mt 25:40) It was the generosity of various friends of the community that enabled these friars minor to turn a former powerhouse for the generation and distribution of electricity into a powerhouse of prayer for the spread of grace throughout the world. As Father David Mary concluded his notes of gratitude, one got the sense that it was fitting for words to fall short in the face of all the Lord has done for the completion of this chapel. At such a point all that’s left to do is pray; thus the reason for which it was made.


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