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A Tale of Renewal
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A Tale of Renewal

During the last renovation in 1979, Christ the King Chapel received a number of noticeable changes to meet the standards set forth by Vatican II. During the most recent renewal, the Chapel was literally taken apart and rebuilt, with changes that are no less dramatic.

Chapel windowThe repairs to the Chapel included re-plastering of the walls to remove chips and cracks that have formed over the years and re-stained pews that reveal their natural beauty. More noticeable, however, was the change in the color scheme in the re-painted Chapel. The subtle green shades matched the newly replaced carpeting as well as the original gold leaf design that appears throughout the facility.

A dramatic change in the facility involved the stained glass windows found throughout the Chapel. Each exterior window was taken apart for the first time in 80 years. They were cleaned, broken glass was repaired, and they were re-leaded, and re-framed. Now, these windows should be sufficient for another 75 to 100 years.

The sacred heart stained glass window that overlooks the sanctuary also received a major correction. During the entire 85-year history of the Chapel, attempts were made to illuminate the window. However, these efforts yielded a partially lit window with hot spots. Throughout its history, no one had ever seen the window properly illuminated until now. From top to bottom, all of the panels that comprise the window shine magnificently thanks to a correctly installed spot light system.

A much needed, though unnoticeable repair involved rewiring the chandeliers on the ceiling of the Chapel. Now these efficient and safely wired lights reveal the true beauty of the Chapel. Likewise, a new sound system and climate control system will enhance the worship experience for years to come.

Another dramatic change involved the installation of the new altar and ambo. Dedicated on October 5, the altar was made possible through the generosity of class of 1959 alumna Stella Corbett Hetzer and her husband John.

The altar itself is a nod to the Chapel’s history. Its legs are constructed from the marble of the Chapel’s original communion rail. The rail, removed in the 1979 renovation, has been in storage for nearly 30 years. John Winterich, president of John W. Winterich and Associates, the ecclesial designer responsible for the renewal project, determined that a sufficient quantity of the marble was still in good condition and could be used to construct the legs of the new altar.

Overall, the College set a fundraising goal of $275,000 for the project. Thanks to the generosity of alumni and friends, a total of $525,000 was raised, allowing the College to pay for the project in cash. The extra funds allowed for the Holtkamp pipe organ installed in the choir loft in 1929 to be cleaned and tuned for the first time. It also provided a small fund in the endowment for the upkeep of the Chapel that will maintain the facility in perpetuity.

An important factor in the success of the Chapel Renewal project was the involvement of a committee of alumnae and friends of the College, led by honorary chair Ethel McGuigan ’48. Their efforts helped raise $15,000 from members of the Class of 1948 for the restoration of the stained glass window overlooking the altar.

Steve Ruic is the writer and editor at Notre Dame College.