By Lauren Caggiano
Bishop Luers High School in Fort Wayne recently completed construction on a new chapel and other improvements, thanks to the support of generous donors.
The changes mark the climax of Phase II of a $4 million capital campaign known as “The Faith In Our Future.” Following a silent phase last year, the campaign then entered a public phase in which the administration called on the support of the Luers community and others to meet the multimillion-dollar need.
The goal of Phase II is to complete several core infrastructure projects, including building renovations that focus on enhancing the student experience in media, technology, religion and the arts. These upgrades are the most significant in the school’s history and will have a direct impact on the quality of education. The Phase I capital campaign, conducted in 2005, successfully raised over $3.1 million to fund other necessary projects, like modernizing the boiler system.
According to Principal Tiffany Albertson, the recent improvements will better meet both the academic and spiritual needs of the students. For example, the previous chapel only seated 45 and did not promote a sense of community.
“The new chapel offers a lot more opportunity to practice our faith, pray and worship in a space that’s worthy of our prayers,” she said.
From a practical standpoint, the amount of seating has quadrupled — from 45 to 180. What’s more, its move from a small, former classroom to the front of the school makes a loud and clear statement that the school’s Catholic identity is at its forefront.
“If we look at our mission and vision, we want to help all students practice their faith and see that it’s at the center of what they do,” she said.
The larger space, known as the Chapel of St. Francis of Assisi, was constructed in loving memory of Bishop John M. D’Arcy. At a Mass with blessing and dedication ceremony Nov. 10, Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades acknowledged the significance of the name.
“This new chapel is named in honor of one of the most popular saints of the Church, Francis of Assisi. He is the patron saint of Bishop Luers High School. The art of this chapel will reflect the medieval art in Assisi and include beautiful scenes of Saint Francis’ life,” he pointed out.
Some of the most striking artwork that will be placed in the new chapel, to direct those who visit the chapel in worship, have yet to arrive and be installed. A few key pieces are in place, however, and the bishop explained the relevance of one during the Mass.
“Here in the center we see the San Damiano crucifix that spoke to Saint Francis at the beginning of his mission to renew the Church. Saint Francis is an extraordinary model of discipleship. He was a troubadour of the Lord, filled with love for Christ and the joy of the Gospel. His poverty inspires us to remember that only Christ is our true treasure. Meditating on his life of evangelical poverty, simplicity, chastity, and obedience, his love for the Church and the Eucharist, and his care of creation, can help us to live and embrace the radical truth of the Gospel. I pray that Saint Francis’ example and prayers will lead all who pray in this chapel to be faithful and committed disciples of the Lord.”
Those prayers and other forms of worship will be better accommodated now, given the chapel’s expanded footprint. First Friday Masses, Masses for entire grade levels, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and alumni Masses are all expected to be scheduled in the new space. Retreats will also move from the wrestling room to the chapel, giving them a more spiritual backdrop.
Albertson said already the project has been a boon to Luers. “Students are excited about the new chapel,” she said. “This is about and for them.”
Along with investments in the spiritual welfare of students, the school has demonstrated its commitment to academics. The media center and library have been updated; a new, more-flexible space accommodates reference materials and includes updated technology that will better prepare them for college and the workforce.
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