Extensive renovations to the Chapel of Our Mother of Good Counsel on the second floor of Merrimack College’s Austin Hall are complete. The new design includes movable, comfortable seating for worshippers and a more flexible space for non-liturgical use.
One of the chapel’s most obvious changes is the removal of the choir stall seating for worshippers who formerly sat facing each other. The renovations also include replacement of the original windows and installation of new flooring, doors, sanctuary lighting, sound system and a pipe organ.
“I’m thrilled that we have a space worthy of ourselves and God for our worship,” said the Rev. Ray Dlugos, O.S.A., vice president of mission and ministry. “When we enter, we have the experience of entering into a heavenly banquet and God’s presence in a tangible way.”
A black ceiling-to-floor curtain was installed at the foot of the sanctuary so that the altar can be separated from the rest of the room which can then be used for non-liturgical events.
Renovating the chapel for the first time in 75 years shows respect for the College’s past but also positions it to move forward, said President Christopher E. Hopey when he visited the chapel last week.
“To me, history matters,” he said. “Renovating this space was about honoring our history and looking to our future. This space is wonderful for worshipping, praying and rejoicing.”
As part of the renovations, a tracker-action pipe organ was installed in a wall niche at the side of the sanctuary by Noack Organ Co., of Georgetown, Massachusetts.
“Music supports worship in a special way and is integral to Catholic liturgy,” Director of Campus Music Activities Hugh Hinton said. “We don’t just ‘sing at Mass.’ We ‘sing Mass’ and the organ will help us do that in a new and profound way.”
The first Mass in the renovated chapel was celebrated during Admitted Students Day Saturday, Feb. 1. Weekday Mass in the new chapel began on Feb. 3 at 12:30 p.m.