On March 15, Mass was celebrated in the newly-renovated Christ the King Chapel.
The restoration, which started on Jan. 5, was completed in early March. The most significant change to the chapel was an increase in lighting. The new fixtures and new lighting improve the visibility of the grand mural, Piszker said.
“People were actually commenting [on Sunday] that the first time you can actually see the mural in its entirety because the sanctuary is probably three times brighter than it used to be. Someone actually said they had a hard time looking at me because they were too busy looking at the mural that they were then able to see,” Piszker said.
More changes to the chapel include the addition of gold trim on the rafters and the beams of the roof, as well as painted boundaries around the stained glass windows to give them more definition. The pews were also removed and restored
“It was really things that needed to be done. Painting certainly hadn’t been done in a long period of time. I don’t think anything had been done to the pews ever since the place was built. And lighting had been inadequate for a period of time,” Piszker said.
The construction went relatively smoothly, but two noted problems were the choice of paint color and the treatment of the tile floor.
“Either [the paint] was too dark or too light. This is sort of like a monastic chapel, you can’t change it. The trick was trying to preserve the semi-monastic style and still bring it up to date,” Monsignor David Rubino said.
The problems with the floor occurred after the workers increased separation of the pews by an half an inch to give people more space to enter and exit the pews. The repositioning left a series of holes in the floor, Rubino said.
“There are 503 holes in the floor, where the pews were bolted in. They drilled the hole, once the pews were gone, and they filled it with a concrete stuff, and they put this speckled stuff on top. It’s fairly close to the original tone of the floor. That was a hard job and that took them forever,” Rubino said.
The cost of the restoration totaled approximately $405,000 and private donors provided all the funds necessary. The remaining funds would hopefully go into an endowment or a reserve, Rubino said.
“All of the money came from various donors, trustees, alums, friends. We ended up with about $407,000 and the restoration cost about $405,000,” Rubino said.
With the restoration now completed, the student body’s respectful treatment of the chapel would be appreciated, Piszker said. There have been problems in the past with students mistreating the space and using it as a hallway between Old Main and Hirt.
“It is sacred space and I can’t emphasize that enough. Even for people who don’t believe or want no part of it, that’s ok. It doesn’t make it any less sacred. This is not a classroom, this is not a concert hall, it is not any of the many things it could be, but first and foremost, it is not a hallway,” Piszker said.