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Fisher Community Celebrates Opening of New Hermance Family Chapel of St. Basil the Great

October 12, 2017

The Fisher community celebrated the opening of the new Hermance Family Chapel of St. Basil the Great with its opening mass and dedication ceremony in Rochester, New York. On Sunday, September 17, Bishop Salvatore R. Matano served as the principal celebrant during the Chapel’s inaugural mass, which included the Rite of Blessing of the Altar. The dedication ceremony was held during the SJFC alumni weekend on Saturday, October 7 and in attendance were the Hermance family, Basilian Fathers, and campus community.

The chapel was named for the Basilian Fathers’ patron as a tribute to the Congregation’s foresight, dedication, and ongoing service to the St. John Fisher community. It fulfills the Basilian Fathers’ early vision for the College: in 1948, the founding Basilian Fathers envisioned a freestanding chapel in the heart of campus. Nearly 70 years later, the Chapel of St. Basil stands on the main axis of campus next to Kearney Hall.

Selected Art and Architecture features

  • The cross on the steeple reaches 86’ above the ground.
  • A statue of St. Basil the Great will be in the courtyard in front of the chapel. Sculptor Timothy Schmaltz states “The one thing I wanted to emphasize the most within this depiction of this profound Saint is his promotion of the Holy Spirit (depicted as a dove being released by St. Basil). In the clothing, you will see imagery of the Nicene Creed: St. Basil was also a great supporter of the creed as well.”
  • Iconographer Minh Huynh is painting an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, commissioned by the Basilian Fathers of East Rochester in memory of Father Leo Hetzler, CSB. This project was initiated by the SJFC Latino Student Union.
  • The marble mensa of the altar came from the altar of Most Precious Blood Church. The top of the ambo is also from that same altar. The bases of the altar and ambo as well as the presider’s chair were crafted by a local artisan, John Dodd, and are made of Sapele wood imported from Africa. The gothic arches in them reflect the arches in the ceiling and the stained glass windows.
  • The “Windows of Mercy” are being made by Valerie O’Hara, the 3rd generation owner of Rochester’s Pike Stained Glass Studio. These abstract windows demonstrate the power of God’s mercy, drawing us from the waters of baptism at the font, to be nourished at the Lord’s table, and then send us out into the world to be “apostles of mercy.” (Pope Francis)
  • The “Gaze of Mercy Crucifix” is the work of both John Dodd (the cross) and local sculptor Don Sottile (the corpus). It seeks to capture the moment when Jesus says “Father, forgive them.” (Luke 23:34). As one comes to the altar to receive Holy Communion, he or she falls under “the merciful gaze of Jesus,” a recurring theme in Pope Francis’ teaching. The INRI sign and the lighter color ends of the cross are made from the wood of an oak tree which was where the chapel now stands.
  • In the two large mosaics on either side of the sanctuary are the Book of the Gospels and the tabernacle where the Eucharist is reserved, demonstrating a harmony between word and sacrament. The tabernacle came from St. Salome’s Church.
  • An immersion baptismal font with running water is at the entrance to the nave of the chapel. It is made of marble, Sapele wood and tile.
  • The seal of St. John Fisher College is on the back wall. Underneath it is the motto of both the college and the Basilian Fathers, taken from Psalm 119: Teach me goodness, discipline, and knowledge.
  • In the narthex are two recently restored stained glass windows: one of St. John Fisher, the other of St. Joseph. They are part of a collection of six that were once in the private chapel of Bishop James E. Kearney. St. Joseph was chosen as a tribute to Father Joseph Trovato, CSB, the first campus minister of SJFC and Father Joseph Lanzalaco, CSB, the most recent one.
  • On the plaza is a copper statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary that was originally in SJFC’s first chapel in Kearney Hall. It was later moved to the Coleman Chapel, and now has returned to near its original location.
  • Bronze Stations of the Cross line the chapel walls.
  • The chapel has a Steinway Grand Piano.


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