Chapel of the Holy Spirit

At the Center of Campus

The Chapel is literally and figuratively at the center of both the University campus and its community of learners. It occupies a prominent position that is impossible to miss from almost any direction. Midway between SHU’s main academic building and its Ryan Matura Library, it is the focal point of a newly configured Quadrangle, the University’s front lawn. An 80-foot-tall bell tower marks the spot, and its massive bells toll the hours and call the community to prayerfulness throughout the day.

?The Chapel of the Holy Spirit is a unique and remarkable structure. Its design, by the award-winning international architectural firm of Sasaki Associates, puts one in mind of the nomadic tents of the ancient Israelites. Indeed, copper folds seem to fall off the roofline onto the sides of the building in the manner of a desert dwelling, and the soft billows of the ceiling can remind visitors of the interior of such a space. All of this subtly speaks of the Church as the Pilgrim People of God, ever on a journey with and toward their Lord. This is a theme that was developed with great vigor during the Second Vatican Council, which was celebrated at the time of the University’s founding, in 1963, and from which the University takes so much of its energy and direction.

??Complementing the main sanctuary are little oases – inviting spaces that are ideal for meditation and private prayer, and the Chapel’s massive front doors open on to the great lawn of the Quadrangle. Huge expanses of glass allow the high-ceilinged foyer, or narthex, to act as a visual bridge between the active life of the campus and the serene spaces of the Chapel. Again, it is a kind of preaching without words. Not that the exterior of the Chapel is entirely non-verbal. Carved into the limestone walls facing the Quad are admonitions to “Feed the hungry” and “Clothe the naked.” These and the other Corporal Works of Mercy found in Matthew 25 remind all who pass of what the life of faith makes imperative: reaching out to others in imitation of the Lord’s own self-giving.
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