Marymount celebrates Mass and the Blessing of the Sacred Heart of Mary Chapel

Twenty-two custom-designed stained-glass windows were the inspiration for the first renovation to the Sacred Heart of Mary Chapel in its 62-year history at the heart of the Marymount University campus. Sunday morning, March 22, the Most Rev. Paul S. Loverde of the Catholic Diocese of Arlington celebrated Mass after blessing the chapel and the artist-commissioned windows, as well as all who would enter through the doors. A celebration brunch at the Marymount Main House followed for all parishioners, and Marymount students, faculty and staff.

Each of the 22 windows reflects an aspect of the Catholic faith or honors the traditions of Marymount University and its founders, The Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary (RSHM). Planning began in 2012 for the chapel renovation, which also included a redesigned entrance with portico, renovated sanctuary with custom designed altar, lectern and presider chairs, Stations of the Cross and statuary, pews and kneelers, new flooring, new lighting and sound system and a meditation garden.

According to Marymount First Lady Lynne Shank, who led the project, the design of the windows needed to be detailed but still allow natural light into the newly renovated sanctuary, adding soft warmth and color. “Our committee took time to solicit feedback from the Marymount community on themes to incorporate into the designs to faithfully reflect our identity and heritage.” Designs include seals of the University and RSHM, portraits of the two founders of Marymount and two founders of RSHM, scenes from the Joyful Mysteries and the Luminous Mysteries, four saints and two blesseds (lay people who died young and serve as models of faith and virtue for the students). The custom windows were painted and glass selected by master stained-glass artisan James Doss, who collaborated with Stained Glass by Shenandoah on fabrication and installation.   

Father Brian Bashista, Marymount chaplain and director of campus ministry, is also a licensed architect and served on the renovation committee. He added, “Worshippers experience sacred spaces and created art (like the stained glass windows) through the senses. The light and the liturgical images of the windows are like a bridge, connecting God and the person to facilitate worship, praise and contemplation.” 

The Stations of the Cross have their own story. “A donor gave us funds to purchase them from a church in New England that had closed its doors, and repurpose them for our chapel. They were restored by a Virginia artisan whose daughter attended Marymount. The materials date them back to the early 1900s, and we are so grateful to be able to give them a new home,” MU’s First Lady explained. “The new meditation garden will see its first full spring of blossoming this year. We expanded the green space known as The Sisters’ Rose Garden, adding a patio and benches around the focal Silver Maple and more landscaping to create a contemplative space,” she added. A plaque honoring all sisters of the RSHM who have served the University is planned for the garden.

Marymount University serves students from more than 50 countries, and according to Father Bashista, “Many students of all faiths use the chapel for quiet prayer, meditation and reflection.”

Photo Captions:

The Most Rev. Paul S. Loverde of the Catholic Diocese of Arlington enters Marymount University’s Sacred Heart of Mary Chapel for the Mass and Chapel Blessing, March 22, 2015.

Photo 2
One of 22 stained-glass windows in Marymount University’s chapel depicts a portrait of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. founder of the Sisters of Charity.

Photo 3
Detailing of each scene of the 22 stained-glass windows allows natural light, color and soft warmth into the Sacred Heart of Mary Chapel at Marymount University. 

Photo 4
One of 22 new stained glass windows, the seal of Marymount University, in the school’s Sacred Heart of Mary Chapel.