Newman Hall opens new chapel in basement

The tabernacle in the St. George Chapel in the basement of Newman Hall. Photo by Ellen Petersen.

By Ayden Pugh, The Circuit.

Benedictine College now has four dorms with chapels. Newman Hall is the newest to join the list. Construction on the chapel began in May 2017, but the process started three years prior.

The process began when Caleb Schmitz, Benedictine College alum, approached David Trotter, the Head of Ministry at the time, about turning one of the rooms in Newman Hall into a chapel.

After the initial proposal by Caleb Schmitz, the proposal went through several departments of the college. Once the chapel was planned, the next step was procuring the funds for the construction.

The money needed to convert a suite into a chapel was donated through the Westerman Foundation. In commemoration of this donation, the chapel will be dedicated to St. George as a thank you to the Westerman family. George is a family name and the middle name of Howard George Westerman.

Dr. Joseph Wurtz, Dean of Students, has taken up the mantle as Head of Ministry on campus.

“St. George Chapel in Newman Hall is a project I inherited,” Wurtz said. “It’s great because this started as a student initiative to institutional accomplishment.”

The chapel is currently operational as an adoration chapel, but it is very bare. So far there is an altar, a new tabernacle and folding chairs. Plans are underway to add more to the space. Wurtz is working with Fr. Simon Baker, OSB and Campus Chaplain, to bring more to the chapel.

“Real chairs will arrive within the month, and we are working to get murals and a statue of Mary,” said Wurtz.

Additions are also being provided by the Knights of Columbus. Garrett Kapelski, junior political science major and Grand Knight of the Knights of Columbus, said a few words about the Knights’ work with the chapel.

“It’s our job as knights to build the Church, and this is an opportunity for us to physically build up the Church,” Kapelski said. “We want to build a beautiful place to worship.”

Kapelski and his fellow knights put into practice their faith with the St. George Chapel. Every evening, the knights host the “K-night prayer.” This prayer time is available for all students to attend.

There are no plans in progress to provide other dorms with chapels, but Wurtz expressed that it would be ideal if someday there were a chapel in every dorm.