Moeller High School Updates Chapel Students, Faculty and Staff Collaborate on Worship Space
By Patricia McGeever
An artist, a craftsman, a generous donor and staff skilled in construction have created a beautiful space in Moeller High School’s updated chapel, a space intent on inspiring students to grow deeper in their faith.
“The existing space wasn’t respected the way a chapel should be,” said Dave Beiersdorfer, the school’s director of facilities. “It didn’t scream out ‘holy space’ that a student would be drawn to, where a student could feel he could go and pray at a deeper level.” Beiersdorfer’s 20-year career in the construction industry allowed him to oversee the project as its general contractor.
“This place was meant to give them a silent place to be,” said Deacon Nathan Beiersdorfer, Dave’s brother and the chief financial officer (CFO) at Moeller. “It’s also meant to inspire reflection.”
A stunning, 9-foot-tall, 15-foot-wide, gold-leafed Byzantine-style icon hand-painted by Columbus-based liturgical artist Todd Brausch now adorns the chapel. It depicts Christ on the cross, his sacrifice and includes eight life-sized figures. The Blessed Mother and St. John represent Moeller’s Marianist roots and the Marianist Three O’Clock Prayer. They stand together at the foot of the cross. The chapel is named for the Holy Family, so the icon includes St. Joseph as well. Father William Joseph Chaminade, founder of the Marianist Order, stands next to St. John. That left four spaces open for suggestion.
“We wanted to give our students and our faculty and staff an opportunity to vote on a saint,” explained Deacon Nathan. “We gave the students four choices for a category called ‘love of neighbor.’ … They resoundingly picked Father Kolbe.”
“The student body chose him for his leadership and his servitude towards everybody by him sacrificing himself to allow others to live on,” said Junior Elijah Fidder.
The faculty and staff voted on a category representing “intellectual life,” and they selected Therese of Lisieux.
Rounding out the panel are two men who represent the student body. The committee overseeing the renovation chose them. St. Martin de Porres is the patron saint of those of mixed-race.
“We’ve got an increasing population of African-American and mixed-race students in our school,” said Deacon Nathan. “So we wanted to make sure that we represented them, as well, and had somebody up here that could connect with these young men.”
The other is Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati. He was a mountain climber and athlete known for his charity and social action. He was 24 when he died of polio.
“Young people, men, gravitate to him and to his story,” said Steve Joebgen, Director of Campus Ministry. “He attended daily Mass and gave his money to the poor.”
Blessed Frassati’s image on the icon touched one student in particular. Senior Theo Becker learned about him through his cousin who recovered after a near-fatal fall from a roof. His recovery is attributed to the intercession of Blessed Frassati and could be the miracle that leads to his canonization.
“I feel like when I first walked into the chapel I immediately had a connection with it, along with noticing the painting of Blessed Frassati,” said Becker.
Additionally, the Eucharist is now housed in a tabernacle donated by St. Cecilia parish. The rededicated chapel’s altar was repurposed, stained and given a marble top. Sixteen hand-made pews and two smaller benches replaced chairs; vinyl tile replaced carpet and there are kneelers, new lighting and new, insulated windows. There’s even a place at the back of the chapel for a statue of Our Lady of the Pillar that should arrive from Spain early next year.
The chapel opened with a Mass on the Feast of the Assumption. Every morning at 7:30 a.m. there is prayer, and the door is always open for students and staff to stop by for a few minutes of quiet reflection.
“I hope it gives them a new appreciation and devotion to the Blessed Sacrament,” said Deacon Nathan.