ATHENS, Ga. — Roughly six months after capital improvements were completed to the chapel at the University of Georgia’s Catholic Center, the community gathered on Jan. 8 for a blessing and rededication.
The 10 a.m. Mass, attended by some 400 students and staff, was concelebrated by Provincial Minister John O’Connor, OFM, Catholic Center director Thomas Vigliotta, OFM, and UGA campus minister David Hyman, OFM.
During his homily, as part of the Epiphany celebration, John complimented the community on its generosity, which allowed the “creation of a beautiful place of worship,” said staff member Linda DiPietro. John noted that “discipleship demands going beyond established patterns of thinking and acting. As adults, we are called to … open our minds and hearts to people, ideas and circumstances that may be new and different, but are means of growth and true discipleship.”
“As I was in the past, I was very impressed with the faith and dedication of the friars and laity who are part of the Catholic campus ministry community at Athens,” John said.
The renovations were triggered by continuous problems with the chapel’s roof, DiPietro said. In addition to the roof, the half-million dollar project — funded solely by the generosity of parishioners — also included the installation of an energy-efficient heating and cooling system, a fresh coat of paint both inside and out, new pews and sound system, restored exterior doors and reframing of the Stations of the Cross. The improvements began in March 2010 and were completed in July 2011, according to DiPietro.
“I am most grateful to my finance committee and the decorating committee,” said Thomas.
Philadelphia friar Fred Dilger, OFM, who worked as a successful interior designer prior to joining the Order in 2004, provided recommendations on ways to improve the chapel’s interior.
“He declared the largest problem was the shed-like sacristy,” said DiPietro. “With the help of a committee, Br. Fred redesigned the space to include a stone wall with an inlaid cross. It is now a beautiful backdrop for the altar, while complementing the rest of the chapel’s interior.”
Fred said his experience working on the UGA chapel was “a great one.”
“The best part of any design work I do with the Province is the opportunity to work with my brothers,” said Fred. “The design process allows me the time to really get to know the friars and to spend time with their communities. The lay team involved in the UGA project were not only fun to be with but filled with ideas. The group dynamic made for a nice finished product. Working as a team allows the parishioners to have a sense of ownership in what is really their space; we are just the custodian.”
The help that Fred provided “is hard to measure,” Thomas said. “He has such a good eye! We had some rough spots with some folks who had some real attachment to some of the changes, but now everyone from the archbishop to the members of our community have been most grateful for how we have fostered our sacred place of prayer.”
“The people supported us with their finances and with their good spirit,” he added. “And we are all grateful that when it rains, there are ‘no more raindrops falling on our heads.'”
— Rebecca Doel is communications coordinator for Holy Name Province.