Fisher’s New Chapel Opens to Community
September 21, 2017
On Sunday, Sept. 17, the St. John Fisher College community celebrated the inaugural mass at the new Hermance Family Chapel of St. Basil the Great.
The Most Reverend Salvatore R. Matano served as the principal celebrant of the opening mass, performing the Rite of the Blessing of an Altar, a significant rite performed at the opening of all new churches and chapels. More than 300 people were in attendance.
Sunday’s mass marked the completion of the year-long construction of the Chapel, a 9,000 square-foot sanctuary that sits adjacent to Kearney Hall.
Also participating in the mass was Reverend Daniel E. White, priest secretary to Bishop Matano, Rev. Kevin Mannara, C.S.B., director of campus ministry at Fisher, priests of the Congregation of St. Basil, and ordained alumni of the College. President Gerard J. Rooney, and his wife, Susan, offered the presentation of the gifts during the service. Several students were also involved in the mass as altar servers and members of the choir and Drastic Measures performed the Alma Mater as part of the service.
The Chapel boasts several architectural features, mosaics, and icons selected for their intentional, special meaning.
Mirroring Kearney Hall, the Chapel’s steeple and cross reach more than 85 feet above the ground. The marble mensa of the altar and the top of the ambo were both donated by Fr. Mannara’s childhood parish, Most Precious Blood Church. Local artisan John Dodd used Sapele wood from Africa to craft the base of the altar, ambo, and Presider’s chair.
The crucifix, which depicts the “Gaze of Mercy” honors the moment when Jesus said, “Father, forgive them” (Luke 23:34). The INRI sign, along with the lighter color ends of the cross, are made from the wood of an oak tree that stood where the Chapel was constructed.
And, in keeping with tradition, the Blessed Mary statue from the College’s first chapel in Kearney Hall, and was moved to Coleman Chapel, has been returned closer to its original location.
In October, stained glass windows, crafted by artisan Valerie O’Hara, will be installed, a statue of St. Basil the Great, created by sculptor Timothy Schmaltz, will be placed in the plaza in front of the Chapel, and iconographer Minh Huynh is painting an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a project initiated by Fisher’s Latino Student Union.
A tribute to the College’s Catholic heritage, the Chapel will serve as the center for spiritual life on campus and realizes the founding Basilian Fathers’ early vision for the College. The Hermance Family Foundation gift was granted in 2016 by Kris Brown Hermance, in honor of her late husband, Ronald E. Hermance, Jr. ’69. Hermance, who passed away in 2014, earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Fisher, and was actively involved with the College for many years, including a tenure on the Board of Trustees from 2009 until his death.