BY Kayla Testi
Sacred Heart held a discussion to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the construction and dedication of the Chapel of the Holy Spirit on Oct. 30. The event covered the symbols of the Chapel and their connections to the university’s academic curriculum. Featured in the discussion were speakers David Coppola, Senior Vice President of Administration and Planning, Brian Stiltner from the Department of Theology and Religious Studies, Darcy Ronan from the Isabelle Farrington College of Education, and Enda McGovern from the Jack Welch College of Business & Technology.
Coppola said that a team of 30 people consulted four documents from the Second Vatican Council during the planning stages of the construction of the Chapel. One of these documents referred to the Catholic Church as a “pilgrim people.”
“Everything you see here is an attempt to include pilgrimage, or being on a journey towards holiness,” said Coppola.
The Chapel contains several Biblical symbols, one being its overall shape and design, which represent the Israelites’ pilgrimage through the desert towards the Promised Land.
According to Coppola, pilgrimage is a central theme of the design of the Chapel. Similar to the Israelites’ pilgrimage, the symbolism of the Chapel represents a student’s journey towards the truth through education. The overall event emphasized the importance of a liberal arts education, drawing information from several different colleges and content areas, all to be tied together into one cohesive curriculum that directs the student towards the truth.
Coppola said that education is about “inspiring us, filling us with the Holy Spirit, filling us with insight, constantly looking for truth, goodness, beauty, wisdom.”
Stiltner discussed the Tent of Abraham, exploring the Chapel’s shape and structure a bit further. He said that tents are a symbol of hospitality in the Bible. Tents were a place of “security, safety and intimacy” for the Israelites during their journey from Egypt to the Promised Land.
“The overall structure is meant to indicate the colors and shape of a tent,” said Stiltner.
McGovern referred to the seven corporal works of mercy, written alongside the Chapel’s wall, and connected them to the world of business and economics. He said that business lifts people out of poverty, which is one of the goals of the corporal works of mercy.
“We underestimate the role of trade in the last 75 years that has enabled people to climb out of poverty and into the working class or middle class,” said McGovern.
Ronan connected the importance of contemplation in education to the garden of benches located outside of the Chapel. She painted a mental picture of the typical day of an elementary education teacher. She described an average day at school as flooded with a high level of decision-making in a fast-paced environment. Some of the decisions that teachers make include lesson planning and different ways to approach the management of their classrooms. While teachers sometimes make these decisions in advance, their choices are often spontaneous and instinctual, given the fast-paced environment in which they work. Through reflection and contemplation, Ronan said teachers learn proper decision-making.
“The exercise of reflection helps teachers know what decisions, moves and practices were effective,” said Ronan.
The audience was enlightened by how the Chapel’s symbolism permeates the university’s curriculum.
“I thought it was pretty neat that the Chapel was designed to be similar to a tent. That’s something I didn’t know before,” said junior Megan Sninsky.