By Celine Klosterman
DAVENPORT — The Catholic Church teaches Christ is present not only in the Eucharist, Word and minister at Mass, but in the assembly.
In the remodeled chapel at St. Vincent Center, headquarters for the Davenport Diocese, Catholics can now more easily see their brothers and sisters in Christ. The roughly 810-square-foot chapel embraces an antiphonal style in which members of the congregation face both the altar, at center, and each other. Such a design not only accommodates a long, narrow space, but fosters a sense of intimacy, said Deacon Frank Agnoli, the diocese’s director of liturgy.
About 40 diocesan staffers, priests and volunteers gathered for Mass March 4 in the first-floor chapel for the first time since it was remodeled amid the chancery’s renovations. Bishop Martin Amos blessed the worship space and consecrated the altar, which was handmade from black oak in a simple, monastic style.
In his homily, he said the altar symbolizes Christ’s presence. “Like Christians at their initiation, the altar is dedicated by being anointed with chrism, honored with incense, clothed in white and illumined with candles — all symbols of Christ’s presence.” Bishop Amos’s words quoted the U.S. bishops’ document “Built of Living Stones: Art, Architecture and Worship.”
Tim Morrissey, a member of Our Lady of Victory Parish in Davenport, donated labor and materials to build the altar and ambo. His wife, Susan, and daughter, Colleen, helped sand and seal the liturgical furnishings.
“We wanted the altar to have a sense of gravitas, permanence and strength,” to distinguish it from a common dinner table, Deacon Agnoli said.
Etched into the altar’s top are five crosses — four at each corner and one at the center — which are commonly added to altars to represent the five wounds of the crucified Jesus. A leg of the altar includes the diocese’s relics of saints including Pope Pius X, Pope Cletus and numerous martyrs.
Retired priests living at St. Vincent Center will gather around the altar for daily Mass; the diocese’s deacon formation class will participate in liturgies in the chapel, too. The worship space was expanded to hold about 55 people. It replaces the chancery’s third-floor chapel, which was converted to offices.
Deacon Agnoli said that in designing the renovated chapel, “We wanted to keep the connection between past and present.” So, 13 stained-glass windows from the third-floor chapel were installed in the walls and doors of the first-floor worship area. Some yellow panels in those windows were replaced with clear glass to let in more sunlight, he said.
For private prayer, the chapel’s northeast side includes a recessed space for the tabernacle.
Instead of pews, chairs with kneelers were used to make reconfiguration easier in the chapel. Carpeting there is unique in St. Vincent Center. “We wanted to mark that this is a different space,” Deacon Agnoli said.
The diocese’s liturgical commission did a wonderful job designing that space, said Msgr. John Hyland, diocesan vicar general. “The new chapel is much more conducive to different-sized groups coming for Mass — whether six to eight retired priests or larger groups like the entire chancery staff.” The colors and other design elements of the chapel come together well, he said. “It’s beautiful.”