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St. Katharine Drexel Chapel

at X av i e r U n i v e r s i t y o f L o u i s i a n a


Opening Ceremonies october 6-11, 2012 Saturday, October 6 Chapel Dedication & Consecration...................... The Most Rev. Gregory Aymond 4:00 p.m. Archbishop of New Orleans Sunday, October 7 Donor Mass .....................................The Rev. Kenneth Brown 9:00 a.m. Donor Mass............................... The Rev. Phillip Linden, S.S.J. 12 noon Student Mass .................................... The Rev. Edward Branch 5:30 p.m. Monday, October 8 St. Katharine Drexel Social Justice / Civil Rights Panel Discussion 6:00 p.m. Tuesday, October 9 Citywide Gospel Choir Concert 7:00 p.m. Archdiocese of New Orleans Mass Choir

St. Peter Claver Catholic Church Choir St. Raymond-St. Leo Catholic Church Choir Xavier University Gospel Choir

Wednesday, October 10 Music Department Concert 7:00 p.m. Thursday, October 11 Faculty and Staff Mass 12 noon Citywide Prayer Service 7:00 p.m. Monday-Thursday, Oct. 8-11 Daily Mass 12 noon Tours 1:00 to 3:00 p.m.


Message from the President Dear Friends, Welcome to the St. Katharine Drexel Chapel at Xavier University of Louisiana. After many years of planning, designing, and fundraising, the day has finally arrived for us to dedicate and unveil to the world our new free-standing Catholic chapel. Named for our beloved foundress, St. Katharine Drexel, this new chapel will without question be one of the most sacred and cherished spaces on the campus. It is my distinct honor and privilege to be able to share this momentous occasion with you. Since the canonization of St. Katharine Drexel in 2000 by Pope John Paul II, the University has been committed to building this chapel. A great deal of thought went into the design and overall scope and purpose of this sacred space. We are forever grateful to our architect, Cesar Pelli, for his inspiration, passion and friendship. It is our firm belief that our new chapel will forever send a powerful message of hope, inspiration, and Catholic values to all, especially our current and future students who now more than ever need the message of Jesus Christ in their lives. There are many people who had a role in the realization of this dream. To our donors and benefactors, please know that this momentous and joyful day would not be a reality if not for your generosity, prayers, and trust. We are forever grateful and you will always remain in our prayers. Xavier University has always been a special place where miracles happen each and every day. With the addition of this new chapel, it is my sincere hope that everyone who enters feels a special connection with their creator in their own special way. Sincerely, Dr. Norman C. Francis President Xavier University of Louisiana St. Katharine Drexel Chapel

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S AINT Katharine

Drexel

She was the equivalent of an American princess, born into the privileged family of a wealthy Philadelphia banker and philanthropist. She could have lived her life in the lap of luxury, oblivious to the suffering of others. But instead, throughout the 1890’s and the first half of the 20th century – long before taking up the cause of racial equality came into vogue – St. Katharine Drexel was at the forefront of efforts to improve the lives of others. St. Katharine dedicated herself to the education of African-Americans and Native Americans, with an eye toward helping them to develop their own leadership and self-determination. Her schools were always open to all faiths; and the nuns who followed her lived among the poor they served. She was born in 1858 to Francis Drexel and his wife Hannah, who died a mere five weeks after Katharine’s birth. Her father remarried two years later. It was from her parents, revered for their own generosity and charity to the less fortunate, that St. Katharine learned early the lesson of stewardship and responsibility to the poor. Early on, St. Katharine indicated her intent to establish a bureau to distribute her wealth to Indians and Black missions, and to enter a cloistered religious order. But instead, during a trip to Rome with her family, she accepted the challenge of Pope Leo XIII and established a brand new order (the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament) which went on to found and staff schools and centers in the inner cities of the North and East, the Indian reservations of the west, and across the Deep South. Despite the many obstacles placed in their path, including strong opposition from whites, by 1942 the Sisters were operating black Catholic schools, convents and mission centers in some 13 states. So extensive was her influence in the Black, rural areas of New Iberia, St. Martinville and other Acadiana parishes that she is often referred to as the “Patron Saint of South Louisiana.” 2

St. Katharine Drexel Chapel


St. Katharine’s presence was also felt in urban New Orleans, where the Sisters not only opened a Catholic high school and several elementary schools, but also established Xavier University of Louisiana, which was to become the capstone of her educational system. The stresses and strains of building a nationwide network of schools for black and Indian children were hard on St. Katharine, and in 1935 she suffered a near-fatal heart attack. For 20 years she was confined to the infirmary at the Motherhouse in Bensalem, Pa., where she is said to have spent most of her remaining waking hours in prayer and meditation. St. Katharine died on March 3, 1955. She was officially canonized a saint of the Roman Catholic Church in October of 2000 by Pope John Paul II. She is only the fifth American to have been canonized and only the second American-born Saint. She is now in the select company of Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini, Rose Philippine Duchesne, Bishop John Neumann and Mother Elizabeth Seton. It is estimated that St. Katharine, who during her lifetime shared the annual income from her father’s trust fund with her two sisters, gave away more than $20 million.

The Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament The Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, founded in 1891 by St. Katharine Drexel, are a congregation dedicated to the interracial apostolate in the USA and Haiti. Ministries can been found in some 15 states (Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Virginia), as well as Ferrier, Haiti. They serve in elementary and secondary schools. They are also involved in a variety of other services including pastoral and spiritual ministries, social services, counseling, religious education and health care, primarily but not exclusively among Black and Native American peoples. From the very beginning, Xavier University has reaped the benefit of the Sister’s presence on campus. It was at Xavier that Mother Katharine could best enable her whole vision and congregational mission – that those who were educated and evangelized by the SBS would be leaders, educators, and evangelizers themselves. Over the years, three sisters have served as president of the University, while others filled important roles as administrators, educators, and clerical staff. And even today, several sisters sit on the University’s Board of Trustees. The Motherhouse of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament is in Bensalem PA.

S.B.S. Leadership – (from left) Sr. Sandra Schmidt, Councilor; Sr. Donna Breslin, Councilor; Sr. Amédée Maxwell, Vice-President; and Sr. Patricia Suchalski, President. St. Katharine Drexel Chapel

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Xavier University of Louisiana

There are 105 historically Black colleges and 215 Catholic colleges in the United States, yet only one is both historically Black and Catholic. That distinction belongs to Xavier University of Louisiana, which strives to combine the best attributes of both its faith and its culture. Xavier dates back to 1915, when St. Katharine Drexel and the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament initially founded their coeducational secondary school from which the University evolved ten years later in 1925. Although the Sisters maintain a vital presence on campus, today Xavier is governed by an independent, lay/religious Board of Trustees on which the Sisters have representation. Its president, Dr. Norman C. Francis, a 1952 Xavier graduate, is a nationally recognized leader in higher education. Even with its special mission to serve the African American Catholic community, Xavier’s doors have always been open to qualified students of any race or creed. Currently 74 percent of Xavier’s students are of other religious affiliations and 30 percent are not African American. Today Xavier enrolls an average of 3,100 students. More than half of Xavier’s students are from Louisiana, while the balance come from some 40 other states and several foreign countries. Xavier is a private, co-educational institution offering a comprehensive liberal arts program and professional programs, including 38 undergraduate majors, five master’s degree programs and a doctor of pharmacy program. Highly-regarded for its longtime success in educating minorities, Xavier is also recognized nationally as a leader in science and the health professions. 4

St. Katharine Drexel Chapel


The Architect:

Cesar

PELLI

World-renowned architect Cesar Pelli, a senior principal of Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects and designer of the St. Katharine Drexel Chapel, was born in Argentina where he earned a Diploma in Architecture from the University of Tucuman. He first worked in the offices of Eero Saarinen (designing such landmark buildings as the TWA Terminal at JFK Airport in New York and Morse and Stiles Colleges at Yale University) and at DMJM and Gruen Associates in Los Angeles (designing several award-winning projects, including the San Bernardino City Hall in California and the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo). In 1977, Pelli became Dean of the Yale University School of Architecture (where he served for seven years) and also founded Cesar Pelli & Associates (now Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects). Since the firm’s establishment, he has personally originated and directed the design of each of its projects. Pelli has avoided formalistic preconceptions in his designs. He believes that buildings should be responsible citizens and that the aesthetic qualities of a building should grow from the specific characteristics of each project such as its location, its construction technology, and its purpose. In search of the most appropriate response to each project, his designs have covered a wide range of solutions and materials. In 1995, the American Institute of Architects awarded Pelli the Gold Medal, in recognition of a lifetime of distinguished achievement in architecture. In 2004, Pelli was awarded the Aga Khan Award for Architecture for the design of the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia — still the largest twin towers in the world. Pelli’s firm has designed some of the most famous buildings in the world, and yet he has expressed excitement at the opportunity to design a house of worship at Xavier. “The idea of constructing a building with spiritual purposes was extremely attractive to me,” said Pelli, who himself grew up in a Catholic family. “This building embodies Drexel’s traits of modesty, simplicity and spirituality. It will make you feel totally uplifted.”

St. Katharine Drexel Chapel

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A Dream Come True

The Site Selection

It would be an understatement to suggest that building a free-standing religious chapel on campus has been an elusive dream for most of Xavier’s history. A chapel was actually included in Mother Katharine Drexel’s original blueprint plans for the Xavier campus in the late 1920’s and it has been mentioned as an upcoming project in nearly every university strategic plan for the past 80+ years. However those plans were always deferred in order to address other essential campus needs such as new classrooms and laboratories, faculty and staff offices, living residences and other student oriented service facilities. The chapel is sited at the heart of the university. Its front entry is on axis with Xavier’s administration building, where Pope John Paul II spoke during his visit to the campus in 1987; a straight line connects the balcony of the administration building with the chapel’s front door. A view of the chapel is perfectly framed by the President’s Room in the University Center to the south of the new building. At the university’s northeast edge, the chapel lifts high its cross next to I-10, so that it can be seen by thousands of travelers that pass the campus every day. The site of the chapel was previously occupied by a student center that was badly damaged during Hurricane Katrina. It was decided that this building should make way for the chapel, which allowed the spiritual heart of Xavier University to be placed at the very center of the campus.

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St. Katharine Drexel Chapel


St. Katharine Drexel Chapel

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The

ARCHITECTURAL

Design

Natural materials, sunlight, and a welcome gathering space distinguish the main chapel. At the entry, the vertical walls defining the lower part of this space begin to grow in height as they wrap around the chapel toward the altar. Likewise, the chapel roof tilts farther upward towards the altar, giving the entire space a sense of lifting into the heavens. Low-ceiling ambulatories on either side of the chapel contrast with the buoyant space that unfolds above one’s head. Seating is focused toward the altar, which is located near the chapel’s center. The chapel’s soft, light color palette allows the colorful windows to sing throughout the space. Niches along the back wall provide places to display sacred art. The design is a product of the collaboration between the architect and Xavier. The architectural team traveled to the S.B.S. Motherhouse in Bensalem, Pa., where the Sisters impressed upon the designers that St. Katharine led a life of simplicity and purity. It is St. Katharine’s asceticism that guided the design of the chapel: simple, pure geometry; a restrained color and material palette; natural finishes; an abundance of natural light, which symbolizes God’s presence. The designers visited the tomb of St. Katharine in the Motherhouse chapel and were inspired by the austere limestone material and the simple yet elegant masonry methods used. They constantly asked the question: “What type of design would be worthy of St. Katharine, and the example that she lived?” In this way, Pelli was a perfect choice for the architect of the chapel. Raised a Roman Catholic in his native Argentina, Pelli emigrated to the U.S. to continue his architectural studies and learned the power of using the right materials in elegant ways in his architecture. The main chapel is a perfect octagon in plan, with the altar table placed near the center of the space. The meditation chapel, to the south of the main chapel, is also an octagon, surrounded by an outdoor meditation garden. The octagon is a very ancient geometry in Christian architecture; it was used for some of the earliest churches, so the plan of the chapel reaches back to Christianity’s roots. It allows congregants to gather in worship closely around the altar, and share witness with each other in a non-hierarchical community of faith. The exterior form of the building – its three-dimensional presence on the campus – is generated from the plan and its major spaces. The walls defining the main chapel are low where one approaches from the southwest, and then rise in height towards the highway. The meditation chapel geometry is clearly articulated in its tower-like form, which rises to support a carillon of bells at its apex, and is surrounded by low walls that define the meditation garden. Like the interior of the chapel, the angular shapes and sloping walls of the exterior are simple yet elegant, made of Portuguese limestone laid with the same mortar pattern as used in the tomb of St. Katharine. The form of the entire building defines the chapel as a unique presence on campus.

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St. Katharine Drexel Chapel


St. Katharine Drexel Chapel

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The

ROOF

The copper-clad roof is the chapel’s most expressive architectural feature. As is the chapel, it is octagonal in shape. The front and back walls of the roof are simple parallelograms, while the three walls on either side have creased surfaces that divide the quadrilaterals into triangles (a reference to the trinity). The roof form rises as it moves back and all the sides taper upwards, giving the entire roof a sense of lift. The top octagonal roof plane is ringed with skylights that deliver natural light to the interior. The natural copper sheathing will weather over time to a rich green color that is typical of other Xavier buildings. Cesar Pelli notes that the roof will change with time, as will the students over the course of their studies at Xavier. The architect expresses this transformation in the chapel, echoing the maturation of the university’s alumni.

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St. Katharine Drexel Chapel


St. Katharine Drexel Chapel

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THE

CHANCEL

Screen

The interior of the chapel’s roof is lined with a perforated screen that filters natural and artificial light, and is a visual metaphor of starry skies and heavenly bodies. Chancel screens were common elements in medieval churches to separate the laity from the ordained. In this chapel, the screen lifts to reveal that we are a single community in Christ. The light metal screen is perforated with rectangles (larger toward the top, smaller at the bottom), which might be interpreted as manna from heaven or the light of God descending. Closer inspection of the screen reveals pinpoint perforations throughout, which give the screen a diaphanous quality. The allusion to a tent structure suggests one of the earliest forms of sacred place. The cavity between the screen and the inside wall of the roof captures light.

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St. Katharine Drexel Chapel


St. Katharine Drexel Chapel

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isen R CHRIST

The

The visual center of the main chapel is punctuated by a 12 foot tall corpus of the Risen Christ which hangs 15 feet off the floor. The corpus, with its uplifted arms and seeming to float before the chancel screen, reinforces the architectural qualities of the chapel, which emphasizes ascension. The corpus was designed and carved by the Stuflesser Studio in Italy, and incorporates African-American features. The figure is carved from lindenwood, and has a rubbed finish that makes the body of the Risen Christ appear to glow. The wounds of the crucifixion are clearly depicted: nail holes in the feet and hands, and the laceration in the right side of the torso. The wood grain of the corpus follows some of the folds in the figure’s draped garment, suggesting the weave of cloth. The Christ figure exudes an expression of acceptance and forgiveness, beckoning the assembled to follow Him and the way of St. Katharine Drexel.

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St. Katharine Drexel Chapel


St. Katharine Drexel Chapel

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The Stations of the

Art

Cross GLASS

Windows

José Bedia is one of the greatest living Caribbean artists. When he was asked to design the chapel’s Stations of the Cross windows, he chose to donate his work to Xavier. Bedia produced single-line drawings of the 14 stations nearly full-size. The artist then worked with the architects and New Orleans-based glass artist Laurel Porcari to create a color palette for the Stations that would complement the architecture and Porcari’s art glass windows in the main chapel. Bedia chose a bright yellow background, figures and objects of dark blue, and deep crimson for the heart of Jesus, which is depicted in every image. The body of Jesus and anything he touches is outlined in gold. Bedia hand-lettered each of the Stations. Porcari silkscreened the images in enamel onto layers of glass fabricated by the Franz Meyer & Company stained glass works in Munich, Germany. Porcari’s “Tapestry Art Glass Windows” allude to the woven cloth native to the Akan people of Western Africa. The 31 windows – each of which is individually handcrafted and thus unique – are composed of rectangular pieces of stained glass that were laid out in patterns and then fired to fuse the individual pieces together.

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St. Katharine Drexel Chapel


JosĂŠ Bedia visits the construction site

St. Katharine Drexel Chapel

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The

Narthex INSCRIPTIONS

The narthex provides space between the front entry and the doors of the main chapel. It is a low-ceiling space punctuated with a sky-lit spine that casts a beam of sunlight on the floor that leads one toward the chapel. Also visible through the skylight is the cross that surmounts the chapel roof, reminding the visitor of the Way of the Cross. The two long walls of the narthex are made of stone and do not meet the ceiling, giving one the sense that the plane above one’s head is floating. One wall bears a quotation from St. Matthew: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” The other wall contains a quotation from St. Katharine Drexel: “Oh Lord, grant that we may love you the way you deserve to be loved.” The passages help prepare the visitor for spiritual consolation and devotion. Calligrapher and engraver John Nash, a native of Vermont who now lives in England, has carved inscriptions in wood and stone and is the author of several books on calligraphy. He has worked on other Pelli architectural projects, and his crisp and exact carving brings the words of St. Matthew and St. Katharine Drexel to life on the Portuguese limestone walls inside the narthex of the chapel. Nash engraves by hand, without the aid of pneumatic technology. Nash’s choice of font for the carvings is slender and buoyant, appropriate for a building designed to uplift the spirit.

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St. Katharine Drexel Chapel


St. Katharine Drexel Chapel

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MEDITATION

Chapel

Designed for small groups, this space is modeled on a meditation chapel that Cesar Pelli designed for the Thomas E. Golden Jr. Catholic Center at Yale University. When representatives from Xavier visited Pelli in New Haven and experienced the meditation space, they asked for one similar to it for the St. Katharine Drexel Chapel. The meditation chapel is accessible from the main chapel and from a foyer off the meditation garden. An octagonal space which is directly beneath the bell tower, it is ringed with square windows punctuated with a rainbow of colored glass, while the walls are lined with light wood paneling. The ceiling is pierced with a cut out of the same geometry as the room, with a light baffle that reaches up to face north. This aperture delivers soft, indirect light into the space. The axial view from the day chapel aligns precisely with the altar table in the main chapel, visually connecting these two sacred spaces.

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St. Katharine Drexel Chapel


St. Katharine Drexel Chapel

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Sacred ART

& Chapel Materials

For thousands of years, art has played several roles in religious environments: as representations of the Supreme Being, conveying the story of scripture, reminding the faithful of the tenets of faith, giving greater glory to God. The St. Katharine Drexel Chapel has several works of sacred art that were specifically commissioned for the new building. Several of the pieces are figural – e.g. they are not abstract, but show the effigy of Jesus Christ during his crucifixion and resurrection. Some of the art is abstract in nature, such as the square stained-glass windows that ring the main chapel like a necklace. Being non-figural, these artworks invite us to focus on color and shape to achieve a meditative state. Other artistic creations are primarily functional, such as the liturgical furnishings surrounding the altar. Behind the altar is a tabernacle that was not commissioned for the new chapel, but has a connection to the life of St. Katharine. At either side of the main entrance to the main chapel are wood-paneled niches that will display works of art by members of the Xavier University community. These works were not commissioned for the chapel but have been collected by the university over many years. They represent the range of creativity expressed by alumni and faculty. The full complement of sacred art for the chapel conveys the same values as the life of St. Katharine: simplicity, honesty, and dedication to God’s glory.

The Meditation Garden Fountain is dedicated to the memory of the late Bishop Joseph Francis, S.V.D. (whose seal is depicted at right).

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St. Katharine Drexel Chapel


St. Katharine Drexel Chapel

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St. Katharine Drexel Chapel

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St. Katharine Drexel Chapel

at X av i e r U n i v e r s i t y o f L o u i s i a n a

Office of Institutional Advancement Xavier University of Louisiana 1 Drexel Drive • New Orleans LA 70125 504-520-7575 • www.xula.edu 26

St. Katharine Drexel Chapel


SKD Chapel Opening