A new chapel at St. Albert Catholic High School is providing students a place to escape the noise of their daily lives and seek a divine connection.
The school has converted a classroom into a new chapel to provide students with “a space that’s quiet when they have so much noise around them all the time, and where they can feel God in a real and tangible way,” explained Lynn Zakreski, the school’s religion teacher.
The need for the chapel came from students, who seemed to want a quiet, accessible place, said Zakreski, who has taught religion at the school for the last 10 years.
The space will be used for religion classes, prayers, for visiting parish priests and as a retreat for students during times of crisis. Zakreski is also hoping to add a collection of spiritual books.
The room so far has new carpet and completely refurbished walls, as well as an altar, wooden candleholders and religious artwork. Yet to come are some stained glass windows and a large wooden door.
The school is using the space already and reaction from students has been very positive, Zakreski said.
“It’s funny, they come in and their demeanour changes. They instantly know that it’s a different, quiet place,” she said.
The chapel has been a desire for years and only became possible through the generosity of a local businessman about a year ago. On the advice of a mutual friend, Zakreski called up Jamie Hodgson of Southgate Buick.
She told him about the prospective project and, at his request, emailed him an itemized cost list. He wrote a cheque for the full $18,000 cost.
Hodgson said he did it because the project is in line with his family’s beliefs and because he saw the value of such a place for youth.
“It’s more about young people nowadays and having a place for them to get to know what their faith can do for them. Today it’s a very confusing world we live in,” Hodgson said.
Hodgson is the son of Ron Hodgson, who founded the St. Albert GM dealership that bears his name. Jamie lives in the St. Albert area and his brother Jeff manages the St. Albert dealership.
St. Albert Parish donated $2,500 for a wooden door for the chapel.
Practically all Catholic schools have some sort of quiet area for prayer, even if it’s just a corner, said superintendent David Keohane. Since the mid-1980s it’s been common to include a chapel in new schools or as part of renovations of older schools, he said.
“We would see a chapel as important to the religious dimension of a school as we would see a science lab having meaning to a science curriculum,” he said.