The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

WSU Catholic Student Center and Chapel celebrates remodel

Over 150 people in attendance at Oct. 5 consecration
St. Thomas More Catholic Chapel after the remodeling.

On the night of Oct. 5, the members of WSU’s St. Thomas More Catholic Student Center, also known as the Newman Center, dressed in their best attire to attend a ceremony at the St. Thomas More Catholic Chapel attached to the center. Students and other members of the community packed the altars, waiting in anticipation. Almost no one knew what to expect.

This ceremony celebrated a consecration, which only occurs when a new church has been built or a significant change to the church’s appearance or structure has taken place. In this case, the center recently remodeled the chapel.

Director and chaplain Paul Heric said the consecration was a reawakening of the center and a sacred moment for him, as well as the 150 students who were in attendance. He believes the biggest issues on campus for students are anxiety, depression and fear, and he wants the newly remodeled center to be a peaceful place for all students to come and enjoy.

“The light is always on,” he said.

St. Thomas More Catholic Chapel before the remodeling.

The ceremony that took place at the chapel celebrated the first act of holy communion to take place in the chapel since the renovations.

Twelve priests travel from different parts of Washington to join Thomas Daly, the declared Bishop of the region, in blessing the newly renovated church.

Students and Palouse residents gave their undivided attention to Daly as he thanked everyone for coming and expressed his gratitude to those involved in making the renovation happen, which included the pastor, donors, construction workers, youth leaders, choir and all members of the parish.

Daly lit incense to cleanse the chapel and symbolize the prayers of those faithful reaching heaven. The rest of the ceremony included the choir and audience members singing hymns.

Sophomore advertising major Christina Flynn has been going to the center since her freshman year. She said many do not have the chance to witness a consecration because they are so rare.

“The remodel showed me that people cared about Catholicism more than I thought. But going deeper, it meant someone cared about me enough to donate, making a beautiful place for me to pray and be close to God,” Flynn said. “My heart just felt so full.”

Elegant bouquets holding white and red flowers decorated the church during the ceremony. Cobalt blue draping stood behind large statues of Mother Mary on one side of the altar and Saint Joseph on the other.

The ambo, the platform on which scriptures are read, and the altar, the table that holds the Bible, wine and bread used during mass, are both new white marble imported and sourced from Carrara, Italy. Local artisans hand-carved the intricate designs on the pieces.

A new cross immediately catches the eyes of those to enter the chapel.

Like the statues, the cross is also oversized. Famously known across the Catholic community as the San Damiano Cross, the cross is a piece of artwork; details of the Last Supper are painted in the background of the cross using rich colors like red, blue, yellow and purple, and gold detailing frames the cross, Heric said.

The original San Damiano Cross is in the Basilica of Saint Clare in Assisi, Italy.

“Every little detail matters and means something,” Flynn said. “There is so much meaning behind every stroke. It’s so cool if you look into the details of the crucifix; they are like stories straight from the Bible.”

Heric said he was responsible for designing the new church. He picked out the cross, statue placement, color scheme and other small but important details.

Taking pride in the aesthetic and presentation of the church is an important tradition in Catholicism, Heric said. The church is seen as a temple, the embodiment of the Lord; taking pride in the church’s physical appearance is a way to honor and show respect for God.

The features added to the church are meant to provide a sense of elegance and reverence for the place of worship, Heric said. For the leaders of the chapel, the renovation gives hope for an improved experience for members and a sufficient representation of the Lord’s beauty and divine existence.

“People suggested we put stained glass on the windows, but I said no, just because I wanted people to be able to see into the church and feel welcomed to come in,” Heric said.

The renovation and consecration ensure a positive future for the center and chapel, Heric said.

The center is open to all students to have a place to study, meet new people, seek guidance and learn about the Catholic religion, Heric said. Mass is at 5:30 p.m. Sundays, followed by a communal dinner open to everyone.

Like many others, Flynn said the remodel was impactful on her and her relationship with her faith.

“Everything about the remodel just increased my care for God and reminded me of why I fell in love with him in the first place,” Flynn said.

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