One minute there was nothing. A dirt lot, concealed behind the Outpatient entrance and with the second floor looming overhead. A sidewalk through the dirt led to an entrance that put you right next to the main bank of elevators. Nothing more. Except the small footprints of three children, hurrying to see their mama...
Ahhhhh, and I cannot locate the photos I know I took of this area...so barren and out of place amidst St. Joseph's Hospital. But, sometimes weird niches occur during additions and expansions. So, imagine a desolate dirt lot. No grasses, bushes, flowers. The hulking second floor of the Neurological Center directly over head and the east facing wall of the wing where, on the third floor, Kim brought all three of the bambini into the world. It had an almost industrial feel and certainly an element of abandonment. A forgotten space.
This was the ground breaking ceremony March 2012.
Bishop Kicanas, sans cool hat, came to bless this ground and participate.
We all got a miniature shovel to remember this day...
On February 1st, I posted 'The Chapel' showing some construction progress...
...but I was not prepared for what evolved into a stunning chapel!
You really need to go see it. My pictures cannot do it justice (Ami, I could have used your photographic talents!)...Now, when you loop around to the right of the Outpatient entrance, instead of a barren, dark dirt lot, you encounter this wall...
Beyond the wall, a beautiful stained glass window, created by Mary Myers. Mary made stained glass for the original chapel (torn down in 2006 to make way for a new Neo Natal unit - lets face it folks, chapels in hospitals do not contribute to the bottom line!). Her original stained glass was saved and when the new chapel was beginning to take shape, she was contacted to make panels for the new chapel! You cannot see the detail in this photo, but, there are interestingly shaped air bubbles throughout the clear areas. Mary created these by tossing potato into the hot glass!
The building directly in front of you is the Outpatient building. To the right, the building where Kim brought the bambini to us on the third floor. The wall and stained glass I just showed you will be at the end of this walkway on your left. Directly ahead, is a seating area. A quiet area to find peace. The immediate walkway is composed of pavers...
It's difficult to read, but, this is from the bambini:
"Cody, Autumn and Antonio Conca..In loving memory of Our Mom Kim"
I focused my
This is a view of the main entrance to the chapel. They designed it to be able to allow for outdoor seating for larger ceremonies.
There were several large pots with bamboo lining the back of the main walkway. Very tranquil. "First rule of bamboo, is don't plant bamboo." Guy to my Dad, asking advice on how to tame run away bamboo in his back yard! Sounds like that guy was a Tyler Durden fan - Fight Club.
This is the north side of the chapel, closest to the main hospital. A comforting statue of St. Joseph greets you and Mary's stained glass window's provide color. If you follow the walkway back to your left, there is now a private seating area to pray or find quiet. This used to be the entrance into the hospital that took you to the left of the main elevators.
Inside the church...the feeling of calm, peace and serenity is comforting. The main altar is a unassuming piece made of wood, silhouetted by more of Mary's incredible stained glass. There is a niche with Mary, Joseph and Jesus to the left ad a detailed crucifix just to the right of the window.
The piano guy comes around from the music pulpit - again, the stained glass windows create such beauty. St. Joseph's statue is just on the other side of that wall.
Here's a view from the inside of the church looking out. Angie and I got third row seats, just behind the nuns, who took up the first two rows!
Before the dedication Mass, Father Issac prepares. Fr Issac is St. Joseph's resident priest. He visited Kim every couple of days to pray with her, for her and to comfort her.
I was blessed and honored to have Angie accompany me to the chapel's dedication. The Mass was so inspiring and beautiful. Kim's spirit was unequivocally there - I felt so energized, peaceful and elated - I knew she was right there. Angie told me she felt her too and said that the chapel was all because of Kim - she had her hand in it!
Bishop Kicanas prepares to place a relic into the altar.
What the hell? I had read about this practice in ancient times. New churches being built depended on a 'good' relic to bring parishioners and pilgrims to their church. It meant larger tithing. The full body of an important saint was optimal, but, sometimes clothing (the Shroud of Turin) or body parts would do.
Venice sent merchants to Alexandria in 828 to steal the body of Saint Mark for their new church. The area was guarded by Muslims, so the Venetians wrapped the body in pork and cabbage leaves, since Muslims are not permitted to touch pork. Piazza San Marco is still one of the most important places in Venice.
Apparently, all Catholic churches have their own relic. The Second Council of Nicaea in 787 decreed that every altar should contain a relic, making it clear that this was already the norm, as it remains to the present day in the Catholic and Orthodox churches.
St. Joseph's had managed to get a St. Mary relic, although we didn't get any details of the story behind the relic. Or what, exactly, it might be. It appeared to be a locket of some sort.
I guess I didn't realize that the practice continued...all these millennium later. I leaned over to Angie and asked "Have you ever seen such a thing?" "Never" she replied. I got goosebumps.
Next, the Bishop slowly proceed to pour oil onto each corner of the altar to consecrate it.
Once again, I had no idea.
I leaned over to Angie and asked "have you ever seen such a thing?". "No."
The Bishop slowly worked the oil into the altar with his hand, thoughtfully and lovingly caressing and massaging it into the wood altar.
Afterwards, we agreed that we had witnessed something extraordinary. And special.
It was a moving Mass. The Bishop reminded us not to allow fear into our hearts. We always have worries. Will I lose my job? How will I pay the bills? How will I do on my test today? How will I get all the things done that I need to do? Who will be able to watch my children for me? Ok, I'm definitely guilty of the last one from time to time. And, are the kids happy?
The Bishop, who is one of the most inspirational speakers I have had the pleasure of listening too, read from John 14:1.
"Do not let your heart be troubled..."
And in that moment, mine wasn't. That chapel was special. Already. I could feel and see all of the patients, visitors and St. Joseph employees finding a safe shelter from their own personal storm here. And Angie's thoughts echoed in my head "this is because of Kim...".
I don't have words to say how appropriate that is. She provided such comfort and calm to the lives she touched. No matter who you were, or what your standing was in life, she found the good. She brought out, extracted, the good.
I was blessed to be a part of this and to have Angie to share it with...looking forward to dropping by the chapel, when I can, to absorb the peace there.
Oh, but what I was telling you, was, one minute there was nothing and the next, I blinked, and there it was - filling in so much emptiness - St. Joseph's Chapel.