By Debbie Shelley

The Catholic Commentator  

Rain fell outside of Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital in Baton Rouge on Feb. 20, reflecting the storms facing many of its patients with a medical crisis and their families and loved ones.  

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Sister Barbara Arceneaux, provincial for the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady, and Jessica Kelly look at the Stations of the Cross in the newly completed chapel at Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital. Photo by Debbie Shelley | The Catholic Commentator 

 

With tears in the eyes of many, people gathered to celebrate the dedication Mass of the hospital’s newly opened chapel featuring rainbow-colored stained-glass windows that serves as a tangible sign of God’s healing presence disbursing those clouds.  

In his homily Bishop Michael G. Duca referred to the Gospel reading of that day, when Jesus visited towns and villages in the land of Gennesaret and people laid out the sick and begged Jesus to heal them.  “In the Jewish mindset, if you were sick it was because some sin of you or your family member had visited upon you,” Bishop Duca said.  

By Jesus saying “your sins are forgiven” he made the connection with himself as the divine physician of body and soul, the bishop said.  

“As Christians, what better image do we have than Jesus as the soul of the healing of this place, not just their bodies, but their souls,” said Bishop Duca.  

He encouraged attendees to think about the mercy of God, who sees people’s brokenness and sin, yet also sees the good, the fundamental beauty of humanity. He said the chapel is not just a place to pray, but a place for people to remind themselves to bring the light and healing of Christ to those at the hospital.  

After the Mass, people’s faces glowed as they looked more closely at the features around the 2,000 square-foot chapel.  

“It’s absolutely exquisite,” said Sister Barbara Arceneaux, provincial for the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady. “The design is basically simple, but the meaning and colors of the windows (which feature St. Michael, St. Raphael and St. Gabriel as well as the story of creation) are beautiful.”  

“I think it’s inspiring,” said Jeff Mosely, vice president of facilities at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center. “It shows us what our mission is all about.”  

He said “flexibility” was the key word in designing the chapel, allowing for different setting up of chairs, and even the lighting allows for setting different ambiences for various occasions.  

Dr. Alston E. Dunbar III, president of Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Health, said there was input from many people into the construction of the chapel, including a family advisory committee, Father Tom Ranzino, vicar general and director of the Office of Worship of the Diocese of Baton Rouge and Dr. Marchita Mauck, retired professor of art history at LSU.  

Stephanie Mason, chief operating officer of OLOLRMC, called the chapel is “a peaceful place,” noting how it provides a quiet spot for reflection when families and staff face difficulties.  

Scott Wester, president and CEO of OLOLRMC, pointed out the chapel was designed to extend out from the building so as to draw people’s attention. He said when the sun shines through the windows during particular parts of the day there is an intricate interplay of colors within the chapel and the colors are reflected at night when the chapel is lit up.  

Artist Steve Wilson, who designed, created and installed the windows in the chapel, was humbled by the positive comments about the windows and expressed his desire that they will help those visiting there to experience a joyful, sacred moment.  

“That’s what you hope to see – the joyfulness, the brightness and colors,” said Wilson. “I don’t think it (the chapel) has a somber feel to it. I think it has an uplifting feel to it.”  

Masses are celebrated in the chapel on Tuesdays at 10:30 a.m. Children’s Hospital chapel