This will be the first installment of what I hope to make a regular series here: Inside…[fill in the blank with a church]! There are so many beautiful spaces to worship in this world, and I’d like to share with you the ones that I am blessed enough to visit. Over time, I hope this series expands to include a very wide range, maybe even with international features!
To start out, I thought I would feature my current church: the Catholic Center. The chapel space here at the Catholic Center is on the smaller side, but it is a beautiful space nonetheless.
Outside of this main chapel space, we have a lounge area (complete with a wood fired stove, numerous squishy couches, and a ping pong table.) There’s study rooms, a library, the various offices of the staff, and a kitchen where we cook meals for “Dinner & A Talk” events or for the Salvation Army soup kitchen. There’s also a bulletin board that is always filled with opportunities for students to get involved.
It is in one of those study rooms where I meet for Bible study every week. That particular room features most prominently a cardboard cutout of Pope Francis, a print of Pope Saint John Paul II visiting a ski slope, and a large print of Our Lady of Guadalupe. We also have additional comfy couches where the other young women and I gather to read Scripture.
In the chapel space, there is a large painting of St. John Newman, and of St. Augustine, for whom the chapel is named. Its wooden surfaces make the entire space feel very warm and inviting, and the colors in the paintings are reds, oranges, and yellows in an effort to reflect that.
There are a couple things which I find to be unique to the Catholic Center. At the end of every Mass, the priest leads the congregation in a series of three Hail Mary’s. These prayers are offered for all the intentions of the diocese. Salesians have a strong devotion to Mary, Help of Christians, so these prayers added to the Mass definitely helped me feel more at home very quickly when I first heard them.
Another thing that I find interesting about the Catholic Center is our tabernacle. Specifically, there is a thin veil draped around the outside of the tabernacle. I’ve never seen a tabernacle veil on the outside before. This prompted me to question its meaning, and I have since connected it as an antitype of sorts for the veil in the Temple enclosing the Holy of Holies. I now love this prominent visible reminder of the sanctity of the Eucharist.
A close friend of mine at the Catholic Center once told me her favorite fun fact about the space, and it also nods to the importance of the Eucharist. The school’s campus is “up the hill,” and the Catholic Center specifically is built on the highest point in our city. The tabernacle is purposefully elevated and centralized. In other words, the tabernacle of our church rests on the highest point in the city. How beautiful is it that the home of the Eucharist, the source and summit of our lives, is fittingly displayed on the greatest geographical summit in the area?
I love this church. It is a beautiful space to encounter the Lord, and a home away from home during my studies. I am so grateful for the community that I have found here, and I look forward to spending more time here over the years to come.