Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Sacred Heart Chapel

100th Anniversary
25 March, 1914  -  2014
Today is a very special day for our community:  100 years ago on March 25 we celebrated the first Eucharist in Sacred Heart Chapel.  The Sisters had been dreaming of a new and bigger chapel since 1911 and it finally came to fruition in the fall of 1914.  "All the Sisters agreed that it must be a beautiful chapel and that it would meet our future needs." (Community Chronicles)  Mother Cecilia Kapsner, S. Priscilla Schmidtbauer and the Sisters were visionaries;  they could not have known in 1914 that the community would grow to 1,200 members at its peak. The cost of the chapel was under $200,000 at the time.  The picture on the right is of the chapel as it looked from 1914 until the 1980s when it was renovated and the picture on the left is the chapel as it is today. 
Sacred Heart Chapel is so much more than merely an attractive structure. Even if we refer to it as a sacred space it does not come close to conveying the full significance for us as Sisters of this Benedictine community.  We read in the Rule of Benedict today, Chapter 43, that nothing is to be preferred to the "work of God" which means for us praying the Liturgy of the Hours day after day, year after year.  Generation upon generation of Sisters have gathered in this chapel to pray the LOH and for Eucharist.  This is where Sisters on their profession day sing the Suscipe - "Receive me, O God, as you promised and I shall live; do not disappoint me in my hope." - and prostrate on the floor at the top of the middle aisle, or in the sanctuary before the renovation, while the schola and community sing the litany of the saints, invoking the communion of saints to support the new sisters and help them persevere in their call. The chapel is where we gather for wakes and funerals, and for the election of a prioress and for her installation. In other words Sacred Heart Chapel is where we come to celebrate the highs and the lows of our life together.  What happens in this chapel is the glue and holds us together as a community.
If you are in the area come and visit Sacred Heart Chapel and the exhibit at the Haehn Museum which will open to the public in a few weeks. 

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