St. John's chapel undergoes complete renovation

By Courtney Klaus, Editor-In-Chief

Students, alumni, and staff alike flooded St. John’s Chapel at the beginning of the semester to watch the new altar be consecrated by Bishop Carl Kemme. But the chapel is debuting more than a new altar - it’s been completely renovated over the past year.

“I think it’s really beautiful. It lends itself wonderful to prayer and being with God,” said Newman University’s new chaplain, Father Adam Grelinger.

The chapel, which used to don a dark blue color with pink accents, is now sporting a fresh coat of bright white paint. The room at the front that used to serve as a confessional has been torn out to make the sanctuary more spacious. Both the pews and the floor are brand new.

Grelinger, who started his new position at Newman this summer, said that, as a former Newman student, he was familiar with how the chapel used to look.

“Not that it wasn’t beautiful before,” he said “But these renovations really enhance the beauty and help create a space for students to be invited into prayer.”

The newly consecrated altar still bears the same wooden front as the old altar and reads “Adoro Te Devote Latens Deitas” or “I adore Thee Shrined.”  Grelinger said it was designed by an ASC Sister and preserves a bit of the chapel’s history.  

The bishop used holy waters and chrism oil to consecrate the altar during a special Mass. Consecration is a Catholic tradition that, Grelinger said, is a way of saying “you are setting something aside for a sacred purpose.”

Renovations first began over the winter break in 2018, when the university’s former chaplain, Father John Fogliasso, and Nick Dondlinger, the owner of Dondlinger & Sons Construction and a Newman alum, started sanding and staining the chapel’s wood surfaces.

Fogliasso said the discussion to renovate the chapel began after Vice President for University Advancement J.V. Johnston approached him with an idea for a smaller fundraising campaign to follow the Bishop Gerber Science Center project.

After a relatively fast, successful fundraising campaign, Fogliasso said, a Chapel Committee gathered to determine the changes that would be made to the chapel. The committee consisted of Fogliasso, Administrative Assistant Monica Borger, Johnston, Senior Development Officer Beth Fatkin, ASC Sr. Charlotte Rohrbach, ASC Sr. Betty Adams, Dondlinger, and architect Randy Crook.

“The results far exceeded anything I could have hoped for,” Fogliasso said. “I think it looks beautiful, and it's a very fitting place for the sacrifice of the Holy Mass.”

Campus Minister Marie O’Neal said it was particularly exciting for her to watch the renovations process unfold over the past year.

“For me, as a campus minister, it was really exciting to see Father Fog and Monica’s vision come together as they discussed different aspects of the chapel,” she said. “To see that come to fruition was a really cool experience.”

Grelinger, Fogliasso and O’Neil all agree, they said, that the most drastic change is the chapel’s new coat of white paint, which makes the chapel “brighter,” “more spacious,” and “more welcoming.”

“It just looks more cohesive and I think the colors just kind of set a really inviting type of environment for people of all faiths to worship,” O’Neil said.

Fogliasso said he is grateful for all the benefactors, students, staff, faculty and administration that made the renovation possible, especially those in Sacred Heart Hall who put up with lots of “annoying, loud sanding noises” while the work was taking place.

PHOTO: Carley Sullivan, Photo Editor.