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Wright State campus ministry unveils building plans

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

By David Eck

SPRINGFIELD DEANERY — After worshipping and working in what was supposed to be a temporary building for nearly 40 years, campus ministry at Wright State University is finally getting a church.

At recent open house events, campus ministers unveiled plans for a 6,100-square-foot building that will house a chapel, offices and recreation and meeting space. The building should be completed by early 2011.

 Father Edward Burns
Father Edward Burns unveils plans for a new campus ministry chapel at Wright State University. (CT/David Eck)

“We’ve been waiting for this for a very, very long time,” said Father Edward Burns, campus ministry director. “It’s a very exciting time for campus ministry.”

The new chapel will seat up to 270 people with space for the choir, a grand piano, perhaps an organ someday, and a sacristy/workroom. A new kitchen will include a double oven for social functions. A multi-purpose area will feature wireless internet access.

The building will enable campus ministry to host larger events and bring in noted Catholic speakers, Father Burns said.

Campus ministry sold its five acres of land to Wright State University to help fund the $1.2 million project. The ministry will lease back one acre in perpetuity for the new building. Additional funding came from years of fundraising efforts, which will continue.

The planned amenities are a far cry from the current campus ministry structure built by Wright State students in the early 1970s. Looking more like a barn  than a church, the building only holds about 50 comfortably in its multi-purpose room, which is used for Masses, meetings and social events. A small kitchen can only accommodate about two people and restrooms are squeezed into the end of a narrow hallway in the building. Two small offices are housed on the second floor of the A-frame building.
    
“It was never meant to be here 40 years,” Father Burns said.
 
About 20 students attended Mass and an open house to see the plans for the new chapel and office building. Drawings lined the walls and illustrations of planned furnishings flashed on a projector. The students were pleased with what they saw.

“I think it will be nice to have a separate place to worship. It’ll be nice to have a church feel to it,” said Marisa Tolle, a Wright State freshman. “I think it will maybe draw more people in.”

 Chapel
Architect’s drawing of the new campus ministry chapel at Wright State University. (Courtesy photo)

The new building will allow campus ministry to expand its programs to include more people and strengthen its relationship with the university.

“I think it will show how much we’ve grown,” said Wright State senior Holly Jackson. “We try to extend ourselves out to the [university] community.”

Al Lowas, who is working on a doctorate, said he enjoys being a member of campus ministry.

“Campus churches are always active and energetic churches, so you can’t go wrong. It’s easy to find a way to contribute when you’re in a small church,” he said. “I look forward to how this [building project] is going to turn out.”

In addition to more space, the project will be a tangible commitment to the Catholic faith for the Wright State community and will give ministers a church from which to spread the Gospel.

“This is going to allow us to grow the ministry,” Father Burns said. “They’re going to know this is a church, and they’re going to know this is a Catholic place.”

David Eck can be reached at deck@catholiccincinnati.org.

 

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