Ursuline chapel celebrates centennial

The Ursuline Sisters of Louisville will host a series of liturgies and concerts to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Ursuline Motherhouse Chapel. The first event is the opening liturgy on Jan. 29 at 11 a.m. (Record Photo by Jessica Able)

The Ursuline Sisters of Louisville will host a series of liturgies and concerts to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Ursuline Motherhouse Chapel. The first event is the opening liturgy on Jan. 29 at 11 a.m. (Record Photos by Jessica Able)

By Jessica Able, Record Staff Writer

The Ursuline Sisters of Louisville will commemorate the 100th anniversary of its Motherhouse Chapel with a series of events in 2017.

The first event will be an opening liturgy on Jan. 29 at 11 a.m.

The Sisters will also begin a preservation project to address a number of repairs including the installation of a new boiler and updating the building’s accessibility.

In addition, the Ursuline Sisters hope to raise $2.5 million to be put into a permanent preservation trust, said Ursuline Sister Jean Anne Zappa.

The Ursuline Chapel of the Immaculate Conception, the chapel’s formal name, was dedicated on Dec. 8 — the feast of the Immaculate Conception — in 1917.

The Motherhouse Chapel, located on Lexington Road, serves as the spiritual hub of the Ursuline campus, said Sister Janet Marie Peterworth, president of the Ursuline community.

The Ursuline campus includes the Motherhouse Chapel, Sacred Heart Academy, Sacred Heart Model School, Sacred Heart School for the Arts and Sacred Heart Preschool.

“It fits in with just about every liturgical or spiritual event we have here,” said Sister Peterworth, adding, the chapel “is alive and has spirit.”

The portrait titled “The Immaculate Conception,” after which the Ursuline Sisters and the chapel are named, is the work of Bruno Alberts. Below the painting is the altar of repose where the Blessed Sacrament is kept in the tabernacle. The Ursuline Chapel of the Immaculate Conception will celebrate its centennial in 2017.

The portrait titled “The Immaculate Conception,” after which the Ursuline Sisters and the chapel are named, is the work of Bruno Alberts. Below the painting is the altar of repose where the Blessed Sacrament is kept in the tabernacle. The Ursuline Chapel of the Immaculate Conception will celebrate its centennial in 2017.

All Louisville Ursulines since 1917 have made their vows here, said Sister Peterworth. The sisters use it daily to pray and to celebrate jubilees and other occasions. It is also the site of funerals for the sisters.

“I can still close my eyes and see 400 of us crammed in here cheek to jaw, with the novices upstairs (in the choir loft),” she said. “It makes me feel like I’m a part of something bigger than me.”

Sister Martha Jacob, archivist for the community, noted that the chapel was constructed in the center of the Motherhouse. On either side of the chapel are large wings with living quarters.

“It reminds us that God is the center of life,” she said.

In the 1920s, Sacred Heart Academy graduations were held in the chapel. Today, students of Sacred Heart Model School use the space for their graduation.

While the chapel is too small for today’s SHA graduations, each high school class comes together for liturgy during the school year.

The chapel also hosts the Mass of the Air, Sister Zappa added.

An extensive renovation took place in 1992 for the 75th anniversary of the chapel. Changes included extending the sanctuary, re-arranging pews for better visibility and removing two side altars, Sister Jacob said.

The proposed repairs will include updating accessibility to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act; fresh plaster and paint; tile repairs; replacing outside window screens; refinishing pews; and the installation of a new water heater and boiler.

Centennial events will include:

Jan. 29 at 11 a.m. — Opening liturgy, Louisville Chorus and St. Mary’s
Handbell Choir

March 19 at 7 p.m. — Concert by King Solomon Missionary Baptist Choir

June 4 at noon (following the 11 a.m.  Mass) — Concert by Sacred Heart Academy Madrigals and Harp Ensemble

Sept. 23 at 7 p.m. — Concert by Bourbon Baroque

Oct. 21 (feast of St. Ursula) at 7 p.m. — Concert by Bellarmine University Choral Groups

Dec. 8 (feast of the Immaculate Conception) at 7 p.m. — Closing liturgy celebrated by Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz and music by Our Lady of Lourdes Choir

Each event will be livestreamed on Facebook at www.facebook.com/UrsulinesLouisville.

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