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Lincoln Center Chapel Gets Makeover, New Name


Damian O’Connell, S.J., celebrates Mass in the chapel named for Blessed Rupert Mayer, S.J., a German Jesuit who spoke out against the Nazis.
Photo by Jon Roemer

The second-floor chapel in the Lowenstein Center, Lincoln Center campus reopened on Feb. 2 with a Mass celebrated by Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham University. Father McShane dedicated the renovated chapel in honor of the German Jesuit, Blessed Rupert Mayer, S.J., to close the University’s Ignatian Awareness Week celebration.

More than 30 Fordham staff and faculty attended the Mass, as did Ethan Gerard, the architect for the renovation project. The chapel now has a new ceiling, lectern, carpeting, lighting and tabernacle. The altar has been reoriented, and a set of curtains can be moved to make the space amenable to groups of different faiths.

“This chapel has been the dream for many years of Damian O’Connell,” said Father McShane, acknowledging Father O’Connell’s wait for renovation funding.

Father McShane also recognized Robert Grimes, S.J., dean of Fordham College at Lincoln Center, as “the driving force behind the naming of the chapel.”

Father Mayer, “the Apostle of Munich,” was born in Stuttgart in 1876, and entered the Society of Jesus in 1900. He served as a military chaplain during World War I, and like Saint Ignatius himself, was severely wounded in battle. Mayer had to have his left leg amputated after a grenade attack, and in 1915 was awarded the Iron Cross for his bravery in administering to soldiers at the front lines in France, Poland and Romania.

He denounced Nazi ideology (as well as Communism) from its early days, and was arrested twice by the Gestapo before being imprisoned in the Orianienburg-Sachsenhausen concentration camp in 1939. The next year he was placed under house arrest at Bavaria’s Ettal Abbey. He died while preaching on All Saints Day in 1945, shortly after the war, due to health issues stemming from his long imprisonment. Father Mayer was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1987.

“Father Mayer is close to the heart of all Jesuits,” said Father McShane in his homily. “He reached out to anyone in need, and as a university chaplain, was never far removed from the concerns of students or his city.”

The dedication Mass coincided with the Feast of the Presentation, the day that Mary and Joseph presented Christ at the temple. Concelebrating the Mass were Patrick Ryan, S.J., vice president of University mission and ministry; Vincent Duminuco, S.J., rector of Fordham’s Jesuit community; Joseph Novak, S.J., alumni chaplain; Damian O’Connell, S.J., assistant director of campus ministry at Lincoln Center; Father Gil Martinez, C.S.P., the pastor of neighboring St. Paul the Apostle Church; and Jean Younes, a Maronite priest from Lebanon who is a visiting student in the Graduate School of Education.


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