A Mass of Dedication for the renovated Chapel of the Immaculate Conception was celebrated Oct. 31. The Mass formally unveiled the historic chapel to students, faculty, clergy and friends of the university. Archbishop John J. Myers was the main celebrant while Msgr. Robert Sheeran, SHU president, served as the homilist.
Since opening 145 years ago, the chapel has been the spiritual heart of SHU. Designed by Jeremiah O'Rourke, the noted Newark architect, it was built of local sandstone in the Gothic Revival style of the mid-19th century. In size and design, the chapel is similar to a medieval English village church. Most Rev. James R. Bayley, the first bishop of Newark, laid the cornerstone of the chapel on May 21, 1863 and it was dedicated on Feb. 7, 1870.
Msgr. Sheeran, in developing the university's "Ever Forward" capital campaign, made the restoration of the chapel a top priority and appointed a committee to oversee the project. Father Paul Holmes chaired the committee and was succeeded by Father C. Anthony Ziccardi. Committee members included Msgr. James M. Cafone, Msgr. Robert Wister and Father James Spera.
Michael A. Marconi, SHU project manager for facilities engineering, coordinated the restoration effort. Work began Dec. 27, 2007 and was completed in October. The nephew of Most Rev. Dominic A. Marconi, Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Newark, Marconi said the words "renovation, restoration, and renewal" have guided the project.
Barteluce Architects & Associates, New York, was chosen as coordinating architect for the project renovation and Frankoski Construction, East Orange, was selected as the general contractor providing construction management and coordination for all of the various trades. Elite Restoration, Philadelphia, replaced stone and pointed the mortar. The chapel's masonry restoration received the 2007 New Jersey Golden Trowel Award for best restoration, presented by the International Masonry Institute, Annapolis, MD.
Granda Liturgical of Madrid, Spain, was responsible for interior liturgical elements and woodworking and Evergreene Painting Studios, New York, restored the chapel's murals. Femenalla & Associates, Annandale, renovated the chapel's stained-glass windows, originally installed by Franz Meyer of Munich, Germany, in 1908 and 1931.
The restored ceiling beams display a distinctive chevron design highlighted by the use of gold leaf. The backdrop for the beams is a blue ceiling with silver-leaf stars, which is typical for many Gothic and Gothic Revival churches. Along the walls, the Stations of the Cross, designed by Raffl Studios of Paris in 1936, have been restored to their original form and color.
(Editor's note: Msgr. Robert Wister, associate professor of Church History at Immaculate Conception Seminary, SHU, provided background information for this article.)