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The public is invited to the Wednesday, May 4, dedication of the newly renovated St. Joseph’s Oratory at St. Bonaventure University. There will be 4 p.m. Mass at the University Chapel in Doyle Hall followed by a Eucharistic procession to the oratory.
Fr. Ross Chamberland, O.F.M, executive director of the Lateran Center for Catholic Identity on campus, led the project to transform the oratory into a 24-hour adoration chapel.
Fr. Ross said his job is to “pay attention to the ways we can promote Catholic identity on campus.
“It became clear that one way we could really improve was by having a more intentional public commitment to the power of prayer and the presence of Christ on campus,” Fr. Ross said.
It is nice to have a place where students can pray in front of the blessed sacrament any time they want, said Julianne Wallace, associate director of faith formation, worship and ministry at St. Bonaventure.
“It’s just a nice spot in the middle of campus that if you needed some quiet time or you need to meditate or pray, that is the place for you,” Wallace said.
Fr. Ross said the oratory renovation project began with a gift of $5,000 from Andy LaVallee, a friend of Chamberland’s. LaVallee had never been to St. Bonaventure, but is very interested in the spiritual well-being of young people and a believer in Eucharistic adoration, or praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament.
Many alumni have said they were unable to use the oratory during their time at St. Bonaventure. They wanted to make it available to current students, and have raised more money, said Fr. Ross.
As part of the renovations, the university removed the rug that was in the oratory and salvaged the original Italian floor underneath. The walls were painted and new light fixtures installed, said Fr. Ross.
Joseph Questa, crew chief for carpentry at the university, was responsible for the crafting of the woodwork. He built wood panels for the walls, a radiator box, a center pillar and a one-of-a-kind wood and glass tabernacle.
The last piece added to the oratory was a security system and camera. The system allows the university community to access the oratory 24 hours a day with a Bonaventure ID.
Fr. Ross said the oratory, which was built in 1927, began as a place to celebrate the Eucharist, and he is glad that it will house the Eucharist again.
“It is a powerful thing, having the Blessed Sacrament right in the center of campus, always there, always present. Christ is going to be physically present right there in the oratory in the heart of our campus 24 hours a day. And that is no small thing,” Fr. Ross said.
For more information about the oratory, visit https://b16jp2.com/sbu-oratory.
About the University: The nation’s first Franciscan university, we believe in the goodness of every person and in the ability of every person to do extraordinary things. St. Bonaventure University cultivates graduates who are confident and creative communicators, collaborative leaders and team members, and innovative problem solvers who are respectful of themselves, others, and the diverse world around them. Named the #5 best college value in the North by U.S. News and World Report, we are establishing pathways to internships, graduate schools and careers in the context of our renowned liberal arts tradition. Our students are becoming extraordinary.
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