Old joins new at seminarian chapel

Employees of Beyer Stained Glass of Philadelphia install one of two windows that now illuminate the new chapel at the St. Joseph House of Formation in Wichita. (Courtesy photos)

Century-old windows grace the new chapel at the Hennessy House

The chapel under construction at the St. Joseph House of Formation is truly beginning to look like a place of prayer.

Father Chad Arnold, assistant director of the House of Formation and director of the Vocations Office, said the installation of the stained glass windows on Wednesday, Oct. 16, transformed the space.

“As Father Simone put it, ‘It makes it feel like a bigger church, a grander church,’” he said, adding that one of the seminarians quipped that the windows were too nice for the chapel.

Pews were installed Tuesday he said. The altar furnishings have been moved in, in addition to a crucifix, reredos, and Stations of the Cross.

Father Michael Simone is director of the House of Formation, located on the St. Joseph Parish Campus in Wichita.

Father Arnold said the renovation of the two residences, the Borromeo House and the Hennessy House, has been a blessing, but that the addition of a chapel will be an important milestone for the seminary formation program.

Workers install a section of the Last Supper window.

“It gives us a prayer space that’s our own. It’s important to be able to attend Mass with the parish community and be a part of the parish community, but because of our needs, our specific needs, it’s helpful to have a place of prayer that’s our own – that fits our size and is not too big.”

The original chapels in the two houses were too small for the seminarians, he said, adding that the new chapel will be a source of unity.

Father Arnold said he is still in awe of the beauty of the windows.

“The seminarians and I have left the lights on inside the chapel and walked outside to look at the windows. It’s just powerful. It’s inviting. I saw many a guy just stop in his tracks and look at the window or spend some time in the chapel looking at them. They’re a great addition.”

The windows originally graced the now-demolished Incarnation of Our Lord Church (1900-2013) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Father Michael Baldwin, director of Field Apostolates for the House, tracked down the windows, which were chosen in part because they will illuminate the chapel with a “priestly character.”

The diocese was able to purchase the windows from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. One is a scene from the Last Supper, and the other a scene of Jesus feeding the 5,000.

The windows were made at Zettler Studios in Chicago and were cleaned and re-leaded before their installation.ƒ