Tina Skubon, parish manager at Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Lancaster, was overcome with emotion when she entered the newly-renovated Holy Family Chapel in the parish’s former convent.
“When I walked in and saw it, I cried,” she said.
“It’s beautiful and stunning, the result of a tedious effort to restore it back to its original,” Skubon said.
The convent was constructed in 1881, as part of a larger building that also housed an academy and orphanage under the care of the Sisters of Charity from Mount Saint Vincent-on-the Hudson.
Over the years, layers of paint and other changes altered the chapel from its original Neo-Gothic style, and it soon fell into disrepair.
In recent years, Historic St. Mary’s Parish and a number of its faithful undertook the project to refurbish the chapel to its original splendor.
The $101,000 project involved tedious and painstaking efforts by conservators from Johnson & Griffiths Studio, which included peeling layers with blades and analyzing original paint chips under microscope. Knights of Columbus Council #867 donated the cost of new flooring, one parishioner secured the donation of an altar from the Diocese of Allentown, and two others gave generous contributions to cover the rest of the cost.
Bishop Ronald Gainer blessed the Holy Family Chapel during Holy Mass on Jan. 29, joined at the altar by Father Brian Wayne, pastor; and former pastors, Father Leo Goodman and Father Bernardo Pistone.
In his homily, he thanked the parish and benefactors for selecting the Holy Family as the patronage of the chapel.
“Each family, not only in this parish and this Diocese, but everywhere, is the basic cell of the parish and the Church worldwide. And this chapel speaks to that truth in a profound way. Love bounds all the other virtues together,” the bishop said.
Paul and Jet Lea Visneski are two of the benefactors of the chapel’s restoration.
“It just broke my heart to see this beautiful chapel in disrepair. So I said, ‘We need to do something about this,’” said Jet Lea.
She met with former pastor, Father Leo Goodman, and the parish began the process of restoring the chapel “for all the parishioners at St. Mary’s and all the faithful who want to come and witness Jesus here.”
“My prayer is that parishioners come and spend time here, quiet time in prayer and be with the Lord,” she said.
This chapel is open for adoration on Wednesday evenings from 5:30-6:30 p.m.
By Jen Reed, The Catholic Witness