Eucharistic chapel opens on the UofL campus

Three women knelt and prayed inside a new eucharistic chapel located in the University of Louisville’s Interfaith Center. It was blessed Oct. 18 by Archbishop Shelton J. Fabre. (Record Photos by Ruby Thomas)

The University of Louisville’s Catholic Campus Ministry is joining in the nationwide Eucharistic Revival with the addition of the Blessed Sacrament Chapel on campus, a space set aside for prayer before the Body of Christ.

Archbishop Shelton J. Fabre celebrated Mass, led a eucharistic procession and consecrated the chapel, located in the university’s Interfaith Center, on Oct. 18. He was joined by the chapel’s benefactors, about four dozen students who attend UofL and the new chaplain for Catholic Campus Ministry, Dominican Father John Baptist Hoang.

The chapel provides a quiet place of prayer “for young people who are asking all the big questions in life,” said Father Hoang. “This gives them a place to come to for those answers in prayer. I’m excited to have the Eucharist on campus.”  

The Eucharist, and the thought that Jesus is always present, “gives us great consolation,” he said. 

Archbishop Fabre said during his homily that it “delights me to be here today to inaugurate this eucharistic chapel, where so many will come to enter into the presence of Christ.” 

He said that when non-Catholics ask about the chapel, it will be an opportunity to tell them “what it is and why we believe what we believe and why mystery is so powerful for us.”

Students who are part of the Catholic Campus Ministry at the University of Louisville sang during Mass Oct. 18 prior to a blessing of the center’s new eucharistic chapel. (Record Photos by Ruby Thomas)

Archbishop Fabre also reflected on the Eucharist as described in the Gospel reading from the Book of John. In the reading, the crowd who followed Jesus asked what sign he’d give them so they may believe. What they were truly asking was, “ ‘What can you do for me?’ ” the archbishop said. 

In answer, “Jesus proclaims those words: ‘I am the Bread of life.’ The sign he performs for us is that he gives himself. He gives his very life for us. That’s quite an answer,” said Archbishop Fabre.

“His perfect offering to the Father made present on the altar whenever we gather. … He tells us again ‘I give my life for you, my body for you, and my blood poured out for you, all done for you.’ ”

The archbishop shared that he was recently asked what the church can bring to the world again and what will help people understand the depth of the Catholic faith. 

His answer, he said, was the “concept of mystery.”

What the church understands as mystery is not ignorance, he said. Mystery means that there are some things “we will never fully comprehend,” said Archbishop Fabre.

“At the very heart of the mystery that is the Eucharist is love. Jesus’ divine love poured out for the life of the world, for you and for me,” he said. 

Dominican Father John Paul Kern, who served as chaplain up until this summer, put the idea for a eucharistic chapel into motion, Father Hoang said. 

The small space is brightened by a mural painted by Dominican Father Dominique Bump. Father Kern commissioned him to paint the mural depicting the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, St. John and St. Paul. The painting also depicts Jesus on a cross from which 365 rays of light appear to shine.  

Father Hoang said the images of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph are a sign that the Holy Family leads Catholics to the Eucharist and the Eucharist nourishes families. The rays of light emanating from the crucifix — one for each day of a year — are a reminder that Catholics need the Eucharist as their “daily bread,” he said.

The eucharistic chapel is open to students Monday through Friday during the day. 

The National Eucharistic Revival is a three-year process that began this year to highlight the Eucharist.

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