MARY'S CHAPEL, located within our church at 403 Union St. Rockland, MA 02370
Dear Brothers and Sisters, peace in Jesus!
THE LOWER CHURCH, RESTORED AT LAST!!!
March 7th, 2010, during a session of our Parish Mission, it became clear that something was going very wrong with the ceiling of the Lower Church: it was collapsing! Subsequently what turned out to be three ceilings (!) were removed and the restoration took place over several months.
A NEW NAME: MARY’S CHAPEL
All of us have been used to simply calling this place of worship “the Lower Church”. So it is. Yet this appellation only describes its location. Given the place that Our Blessed Mother plays in the devotional life of us Catholics, I would like to propose that we dedicate “the Lower Church “ in a formal way to Our Lady and name it from henceforth, MARY’S CHAPEL.
This is certainly appropriate since we have installed the statue of Our Lady of Grace which formerly resided at the front of the Upper Church in a place of devotion to the left side of the altar. The other sign that this is MARY’S CHAPEL will greet your eyes when you see one particular color that has been used in its decoration. More on that later.
THE CEILING, THE ROOM, THE COLORS
When you enter MARY’S CHAPEL you will immediately notice how changed the ceiling is. I have met no one from town who remembers the ceiling as it is now, yet what you see is the ceiling as it was when the first Mass was celebrated in this room on Christmas Day, 1882. The building was begun on June 15th of that year and by the Feast of the Nativity the massive beams which extend from the walls towards the center of the room would have been in place to support what would have
been then only the ceiling but later became as well the supports for the floor of the Upper Church. They are accompanied with new lighting, fans, fire alarm system, speaker system and new colors. Ah, the colors! You see walls of an oatmeal white, a ceiling of pure white and the beams of a soft yellow. The whole reminds us of the text, “The Light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:5). But, I think, best of all, is the color which graces the walls behind the altar, the shrine of Our Lady of Grace and the tabernacle: the same lovely blue that is the original color used in 1882 when Catholics first worshipped God in this room. Interestingly for more the 125 years no one could see this blue of our Blessed Mother. Why? Well, fascinatingly, when our predecessors went on to complete the main Church upstairs; they had to add significant supports in the sanctuary of MARY’S CHAPEL to bear the weight of the altar and its backdrop above.
Therefore the wall which you see today is not the original wall. It was added along with four large brick columns to bear the weight mentioned thus hiding the first, the original back wall and its lovely blue. Our painters were very careful to replicate this Marian hue thus linking all of us with those folks who so many years ago first offered Christmas Mass in Holy Family Church. As best as we can tell the rest of the CHAPEL was painted a very light green back then, so the Stations of the Cross would have stood out quite clearly. The new, bright colors have certainly achieved that effect today. And the windows now stand out as well. Praise God!
The tabernacle which continues to be at the right, proximate for personal devotion, is new for the CHAPEL, but not for the Parish. It originally resided in the convent across the street from the Church. It was saved, gilded, and now brilliantly calls us all to “Come to Christ”, as Pope John Paul II told us when he came to Boston 31 years ago. Moreover, the marble cross raised above the tabernacle once graced the peak of the central spire of the original altar of 1885: another special link with our past.
THE STATUE OF OUR LADY OF GRACE
The statue of Our Lady to the left of the altar once was enshrined in the main Church until twelve years ago when we installed the icon of the Holy Family. Now Mary welcomes her children again to light a candle (electric for safety) and say a prayer. By the way, the logo above her head, AM, for Ave Maria, as well as the golden crosses surrounding the central crucifix are replicas of the same from the original blue wall I mentioned above.
THE CIRCULAR STAINED GLASS WINDOW
When the elevator extension was constructed a decade ago it was necessary to remove one of the three round, stained glass windows depicting a crimson equal-sided Cross from the Southwest corner of the building. It was stored for just such an opportunity as this restoration. Now it is installed at the rear of MARY’S CHAPEL. Its illuminated glory I believe you will find extraordinary. May it call us to bring Christ to others as we leave God’s House.
We have installed new carpeting in the sanctuary and the aisles. The floor covering under the pews proved still usable. We have secured it with new stripping. The benches were simply washed, cleaned and lightly finished. The air coolers have been encased with portable screens, limiting their contrast with the CHAPEL’S beauty. The Confession Room has been redone as have the rest rooms. And the new lighting can be dimmed for a gentle atmosphere in future services.
In the midst of the Church’s crises, buffeted by an economy in recession, God has encouraged us with a restored and beautified MARY’S CHAPEL! How good is the Good God!! Our hope in Christ is renewed! As ever, ‘God is for us and never against us!’ (See Romans 8: 31). Therefore, we gather at each Mass this weekend to give God thanks! Alleluia!
We have been blessed by so many people who made this project a success. Our appreciation goes out to our town officials who were so helpful to us right from the start of our problems: Tom Ruble, the Building Inspector, Chief Scott Duffy and Deputy Chief William Ferguson of the Fire Department; the men from the Archdiocese, Kent Wilkins, our claims manager and Peter Moschetto, our engineer. We are entirely indebted to our architect, John Williamson, and our general contractor, Robert Head, and his crew. Our appreciation goes out as well to Deacon Joe Vitello and Sean Vitello and John Murphy from Graham Painting, Chip Perfetuo, our electrical contractor, and his crew headed by Paul Gordon, Steven Mitchell and his men, Whittemore-Durgin Glass Company, Julius and Troy of Power Sound of New England, Steve Rich of Custom Design Carpet and his crew, the folks from Atlas Alarm, Nick Anania and his people from Anania Plumbing and Heating, Jack and Mike Hoadley and their men from Hoadley Plumbing, Colm Murphy and his crew of CMM Painting, Steve Dunn our plasterer and his men, Chris Ferraro and his people from Ridgemont, Inc., and “the Head Girls” of RHC Contracting. Last but not least, our great appreciation must be extended to the staff of our parish who have so willingly and capably expedited the restoration of MARY’S CHAPEL.
May Our Brother Jesus pour out upon them all His blessings and reward their kindnesses to Holy Family Parish. Posted 112110