Archbishop Bernard Hebda officiates during the Opening Mass Sept. 5, 2019 in the newly renovated interior of the Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas.

Renovated Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas Shines During Opening Mass

Swelling music echoed and light reflected off the walls of the newly renovated Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas on Thursday as St. Thomas celebrated its reopening during welcoming Mass.

Archbishop Bernard Hebda presided over the service as hundreds of community members came together to celebrate and enjoy the chapel’s new look.

Students carry the cross during the Opening Mass Sept. 5, 2019 in the newly renovated interior of the Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas.

Students carry the cross during the Opening Mass Sept. 5, 2019 in the newly renovated interior of the Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas. Liam Doyle/University of St. Thomas

“I don’t know if it’s the refurbished chapel, but you all look magnificent,” Hebda said in greeting. “What a pleasure it is to be here and to have this opportunity to ask for the gifts of the Holy Spirit as we begin this new school year. I'm so grateful to Dr. [Julie] Sullivan and Father [Larry] Snyder for the kind invitation to be with you this day and to celebrate this Mass.”

Many community members entered before the service began and admired the chapel as light poured in through the stain glass windows.

“It’s lovely,” undergraduate seminary student Simon Zamani said. “The sound of the music here is fantastic. To have so many people here is awesome; you can really feel the presence of God.”

“It’s amazing, just beautiful,” staff member Michele Goodson said. “To come here during the day and enjoy this space is truly a blessing.”

Celebrating the feast of St. Teresa of Calcutta, worshipers listened to Mark 5:1-11, which tells of Jesus’ command of Simon Peter and his fellow fishermen to head into deep waters and cast their nets for fish. Despite Peter’s initial acknowledgement that they have fished there all night and caught nothing, they journey out and catch a miraculously great host of fish.

“The Lord’s advice is for us all to be willing to put out into the deep. … To hear the Lord’s voice, that’s what we want to do. To trust that His love for us is so great, He will not lead us astray,” Hebda said during his homily. “The Lord has a plan for each one of us, as He had a plan for Mother Teresa.”

A list of the renovations done over the summer in the Chapel included:

  • Interior Plaster Repair: Acoustical ceiling material was removed, disposed and replaced with integral color plaster. The interior plaster walls were patched and repaired with a new integral plaster placed directly over walls.
  • Painting: The existing dental molding, cornice and white trim throughout the Narthex (Sanctuary) was painted. Touch-up painting of colored bands at the high barrel ceilings was complete where required. The existing wood at chapel entrances was re-stained.
  • Pews: The wood pews and kneelers  were removed and replaced. The pews were custom made to match the original design.
  • Doors and Hardware: The exterior entry doors and hardware were replaced, matching the original when possible.
  • Flooring:  The existing vinyl flooring under pew areas was removed and replaced with Kasota stone floor.
  • ADA Ramp: An ADA ramp was added allowing access to the altar from the main seating area.
  • Lighting: Existing light fixtures at the chapel’s first level were replaced with new LED light fixtures. A new lighting control system was also installed.
  • Fire Alarm: Installation of a code compliant fire alarm system was completed.
  • Sanctuary Doors: The brass sanctuary doors on the alter was restored.
  • Security: Security cameras were added.

Learn more here about ways you can support the chapel renovation and new Iversen Center for Faith through charitable giving.