Advertisements ad

April 26, 2009

Chapel gets new life with help from family Quigley Center space rededicated following updating and cleaning

By Michelle Martin


When Cardinal George dedicated a new altar in the St. James Chapel in the Archbishop Quigley Center April 20, he was treating it as the body of Christ — specifically, the body of the crucified Christ, which was washed, anointed with oil, wrapped in a cloth and perfumed with incense before it was buried.

The dedication of the altar came once the chapel, modeled after Sainte-Chapelle in Paris, was renovated with new wiring, new sound and lighting systems and floor-to-ceiling cleaning. The work was part of the transformation of the building, at 835 N. Rush St., from a high school seminary to one of two archdiocesan administrative office buildings.

Cardinal George focused on the dedication ritual in his homily at the Mass, explaining that the altar signifies Christ, and noting that everything done to the altar in the dedication ceremony — washing with holy water, anointing with oil, perfuming with incense — is also done to the members of Christ’s body as part of their sacramental lives.

“What we do to the altar was done to the crucified body of the Lord,” the cardinal said. “It is also done to the bodies of his members.” Archdiocesan employees who work in the building attended the Mass, along with John and Herta Cuneo, whose significant donation helped make the renovation possible.

Cuneo family members have long been major donors to the archdiocese, especially toward efforts to build, restore and maintain its most beautiful churches.

“My great-grandfather built Assumption Church on Illinois Street,” John Cuneo said. “We have a tradition of doing this for way more than 100 years. We were the first ones to contribute to the renovation of Holy Family (on Roosevelt) and we helped at Holy Angels. Where we’ve had a chance to do something, we have.”

The reason, Cuneo said, is that the church needs its sacred places.

“Without these churches, you wouldn’t have the devotional feeling that you do,” he said. “They are some of the most beautiful churches of the world.”

His wife, Herta, agreed, saying the St. James Chapel reminds her of the cathedral in Milan, Italy.

April 20 was the first time she had seen the chapel, she said.

John Cuneo had seen it before, when it was the chapel for Archbishop Quigley Preparatory Seminary.

“The biggest difference is the stairs and the elevator in the front of the building,” said Cuneo. “That makes it available to other people. Before, it was only accessible by going through the school, so it was only available to the students.”

Cardinal George Mundelein planned the chapel along with the high school seminary, and, in 1916, asked for donations from Catholic school children in the archdiocese to help pay for it. The chapel originally was dedicated in 1920.

Since reopening this year, the chapel already has been used for weddings for couples who had planned to marry at nearby Holy Name Cathedral. The cathedral building is closed for repairs following a fire in February.

John Cuneo said he greatly enjoyed the liturgy and the refurbished surroundings in the chapel.

“It’s a beautiful place,” he said. “I’m proud to be part of it.”