Chapel Dedicated with Impressive Church Ceremony
Bishop Ward Says Pontifical High Mass from the New Altar
Many Clergymen Present
Five Bishops Take Part in Consecration of the New Edifice at St. Mary’s Academy –
Description of the Chapel Building
The formal dedication of the new Chapel of the Annunciation at St. Mary’s Academy took place yesterday morning in the presence of a number of the dignitaries and many clergymen of the Catholic Church in this section of the country. In addition there were many guests and a number of the older members of the alumnae along with visiting Sisters of Charity from other places. The consecration ceremonies were impressive and worthy of the elegant new chapel.
This newspaper article goes on to name the bishops, priests, and distinguished alumnae present at the consecration and to describe the chapel’s fine Renaissance Palladian architecture, Charles Keck’s sculpted angels alongside the altar, and the electric light fixtures (two of which contained 350 light bulbs). But not surprisingly, the article tells us nothing about the feelings of the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth who paid for and oversaw its construction and who would use it as a sacred space.
We catch glimpses of the meaning of the chapel to the sisters in the community’s chronicles of 1916. The chronicler, S. Mary Aurelia Ferry, noted a number of landmark events in the early history of the chapel. On March 2, she noted, “Our Lord has taken up his abode for good in the Chapel of the Annunciation. This morning after mass, for the first time since dedication day, -- January 6 of this year, Father did not remove the Blessed Sacrament to the sacristy. The tabernacle doors caused the delay. But they were finished and in place yesterday, so today we began to live in earnest in the new chapel.” Notice that the chapel, for S. Mary Aurelia, is not simply a place to worship and to pray; it is a place to live.
Just a few weeks later, on the Feast of the Annunciation, S. Mary Aurelia wrote of the first professions of vows in the new chapel and the tolling of the newly installed and blessed chapel bells on the occasion of those vows. This tradition, now nearly 100 years old, continues to bind together generations of Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth.
Therefore, when we observe the centennial of Annunciation Chapel, we do not simply honor a beautiful old building. Rather, we honor all of the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth who made their vows and marked milestones of Christian service within the walls of this beautiful old building. We honor women who lived in the chapel in celebration and mourning, in conviction and fear, and in service to one another and the world beyond Annunciation Chapel.