Christchurch Bishop Paul Martin, SM, opened the newly built $3.5 million chapel of St Bede’s College on September 12, marking the conclusion of the school’s seven-year, $20 million rebuild and refurbishment.

The liturgy for the opening of the chapel began with the symbolic handing
over of the building, its keys and plans to the bishop.

“I am not here simply to open another building, but to receive this chapel on behalf of God and for the use of God. From today this chapel is not our chapel — it is God’s house,” Bishop Martin said.

Bishop Martin called on the college to keep the chapel open and welcoming.

“Every time you drive or walk past this chapel, perhaps at the beginning or end of each day, take a brief moment to remember that Jesus is with you in the midst of your own joys and hopes, griefs and anxieties, perhaps renew that lovely old Catholic custom of making the Sign of the Cross as a simple prayer whenever you pass a Catholic church,” he said.

St Bede’s rector Justin Boyle said the college paid homage to its history in building the chapel.

“We’re a school of over 100 years old. And as you come up the drive there, many people have said to me, ‘it looks like it’s been here for 100 years already’. That’s exactly the effect we’re want to create,” he said.

The original chapel was demolished in 2012 after it was damaged by the
earthquake the year before. The school temporarily used an old science building for prayers and Masses while awaiting the new chapel.

Mr Boyle said many of the features of the old chapel had been kept and reinstalled in the new building.

“These features include 12 stained glass windows and the backdrop of the old altar, the reredos, which is a replica of the one in Durham Cathedral in England where St Bede’s crypt is,” he said.

The organ as well as pews from other demolished Catholic churches in Christchurch were also installed to sensitively integrate these historic core features into the new facility, he said.

The Society of Mary donated $1 million to the chapel appeal which was matched by the college’s board through a combination of money from its insurance payout and its own funds. Around 400 donors also contributed.

Mr Boyle said the chapel is the most important building of the college.

“The return of the chapel is a clear statement of who we are and what we stand for, a Catholic, Marist College, and we welcome its return,” he said. “The chapel is the soul of our school, connecting with our newly-refurbished performing arts centre and in keeping with the historic buildings that dot our grounds. These two wonderful new buildings reflect our holistic approach to education, supporting boys to develop into well-rounded men,” he added.

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