The oldest building in Wisconsin holds more than six hundred years of memories, including four years of my own.
St. Joan of Arc Chapel sits in the heart of Marquette University’s rapidly changing campus, nearly exactly as I remember it from my time on campus in the early 1980s.
We used to pop in for masses, when our schedule allowed, and I remember loving how the casual nature of the proceedings made them even more sincere.
There were a few benches, but we mostly sat on the floor. That’s where the heat seeped up anyway on cold winter afternoons. We could call out our intentions when the time came and that, too, made the mass seem more meaningful.
So, rather than praying formally for things like “those suffering from illness…” we prayed for Sarah’s mother, who was just diagnosed with cancer, because Sarah had come to the chapel that day and asked us to do so.
We also prayed for less dire intentions, like doing well on a final, or recovering from a broken heart.
I can’t say I was a regular attendee, but I can say I enjoyed every mass I ever attended in that tiny, spiritual place.
I like to think the community we built in those years, both secular and sacred, provided a foundation that continues to support us all these years later.
I thought about that yesterday when I stopped by the chapel on an impromptu campus visit. My prayer request that day (had we arrived at mass time) would have been one of gratitude for the lifelong friendships we made on campus during that special time (including my intramural basketball partner turned husband of 33 years).
Along with our classmates and friends, we have been through all of the terrible challenges and heart-swelling joy a full life offers and I thank Marquette University and the chapel it reveres for helping us develop the intellect to make our way in all of our chosen professions, the faith to appreciate that we aren’t alone on this journey and the capacity to enjoy a lifetime of love.
Ring out Ahoya!