Caldwell, N.J., April 25, 2018 – The Caldwell community gathered for a final Mass in the Mother Joseph Residence Hall Chapel April 23 as the university moves forward with plans to build a new chapel in a more centrally located part of campus.
Father James Manos, of the Archdiocese of Newark, was the celebrant. Reflecting on the Gospel reading in which Jesus’s sheep hear his voice when he calls their names and he leads them out, Manos said we often hunger and search, but we do not know what we are searching for. Jesus says, “I am the gate,” and we need to know when God is calling us in a new direction and telling us not to stay in the same place. And so it is with the plans for a new chapel.
“God’s call remains the same, no matter where we are or what time we live in,” Manos said. We thank God for this house, said Manos, and we look forward to a new house “full of young men and women” who will continue to hear God’s call, no matter where they are.
President Nancy Blattner explained to the alumni, students, faculty and staff that the formal process was being done in accordance with the code of canon law.
She said it was a fitting time to read from “Celebrating the Past, Shaping the Future,” by Sister Rita Margaret, O.P., about the beginnings of the building and the chapel, which was completed in December 1961.
“The joy of their first Mass in the new chapel on Christmas Eve was heightened by the beauty of the stained glass windows and the tabernacle,” Sister Rita wrote. “The windows, designed by Sister Julia Marie, depicted Dominican saints and are still a reminder of the relationship between the Dominican Sisters and the college. The tabernacle was a gift of the student body of the college in memory of Monsignor John L. McNulty.” (He was an uncle of Sister Kathleen Tuite, O.P., vice president for student life.)
Blattner invited the attendees to look carefully at the surroundings. “Drink in the magnificence of the stained glass windows created by one of the Dominican Sisters. Appreciate the tabernacle that commemorates the life of one of God’s servants. Look in awe at the green Italianate marble which graces the altar, the stations of the cross, the pillars in the altar rail, the holy water fonts and the candleholders. These are the sacred art and furnishings that have surrounded those who have visited the chapel for more than the past 50 years.”
The new chapel will be located in a more heavily traveled part of the campus, in the Newman Center off of the student plaza, where the Eucharist will be preserved in the tabernacle and there will be an opportunity for prayer and reflection.
Student Brittany Gaule did the first reading. Students Devin Lattuga and Jacqueline Kajon were mass assistants. “I was honored to be a part of it,” said Lattuga. The students are happy that the new chapel will be more centrally located. It was a beautiful ceremony, “closing one chapter and opening a new chapter,” said Kajon.
Sister Patrice Werner, O.P., the former president of Caldwell and current prioress for the Sisters of St. Dominic, and Sister Michel Rodgers, O.P., worked in residence life in Mother Joseph in the 1970s and ’80s. The Mass brought back many good memories of their days living on the third-floor west wing.
As the university designs the new chapel, made possible by a donation from alumna Elaine Tweedus, “careful consideration is being given to preserve many of the distinctive features of this chapel so that there remains an unbroken bond between Caldwell’s past and its present, between its founding and its future,” Blattner said.
The family of Sister Julia Marie, O.P., who created the stained glass windows, was present.
Blattner invited everyone to hold in prayer the sisters, living and deceased, who lived in Mother Joseph and the former and current resident and commuter students who came to the chapel for Mass and reflection as well as current members of the sponsoring congregation, the board of trustees members, faculty, staff, all students, alumni and benefactors.
“As God has blessed the work of the hands of those who have come before us, we pray that Mother Joseph Dunn (Caldwell College founder) will intercede with our heavenly Father and ask for continued blessings on Caldwell University in the years to come.”
Blattner and Sister Patrice ceremonially closed the doors for the last time as the community left for a reception in the Newman Center next to the site where the new chapel will be located.
Tweedus ’66 and her husband, Ed Lonyai, have pledged a generous gift to build the new chapel, which will be named in memory of Elaine’s Aunt Mary, Sister Mary Dominic Tweedus, a Sister of Saint Dominic of Caldwell, who served the community for 67 years.