St. Petersburg Friary Builds a Chapel

Roy Gasnick, OFM Friar News

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The workers have poured the cement. They have gradated the floors and the walkways. They are now erecting the cinderblock walls. Day by day, the guardian and friars of St. Anthony Friary watch as construction continues on their new, larger, long-desired chapel worship space.

James Toal, OFM, guardian of the friary, tells us that “the chapel’s size will be 22 feet by 38 feet. By design, it will be flexible for other uses besides the traditional ones. We are building it because we outgrew the present chapel, not only for our present number of friars, but also for those special occasions when we have many guests such as Provincial retreats. By way of contrast, the present chapel contains 25 seats, whereas the new chapel will contain 60 seats. However, for special occasions, more seats can be added.”

“Also, the present chapel is “L” shaped,” he said, “not a hospitable space for Mass and other liturgical functions. Liturgy suffers from lack of adequate worship space, and friars in one part of the chapel can’t see friars in the other part of the chapel.”

The new friary chapel is located on the Fourth Avenue side of the friary at the end of the first floor section of the building, the area formerly occupied by the kitchen’s frozen foods refrigerators and the housekeeping laundry machines. It is underneath the second floor extended section of the friary which had been parking spaces for the kitchen and part of the friary garden. The friars will be able to gain entrance to the chapel through what had been the old recreation room and through an enclosed glass passageway. There will also be an entrance on Fourth Avenue.

This new addition, according to the architect’s plan, also includes room for a fairly large sacristy — it even has asacrarium — in which Michael Madden, OFM, can bring together many of the scattered items which he and Valerian Vaverchak, OFM, now have stored in various places throughout the friary.

In that same area, the friars will be able to store their Breviaries in a built-in alcove at the friars’ entrance to the chapel, making for an easy flow of human traffic. A unisex, handicapped restroom takes up the last part of that space aside the chapel.

The contractors look to the end of November as a target date for completion of the new chapel, said James, who is carefully watching the project’s expenses.

— Fr. Roy, a resident of St. Anthony Friary in St. Petersburg, is a former HNP communications director.