Volunteers  remodel ICC chapel 

By Debbie Shelley

The Catholic Commentator  

The adoration chapel at Immaculate Conception Church in Denham Springs has been “silenced” at times during its 24 years of existence, including the flood of 2016 when it took on more than five feet of water and now with the coronavirus pandemic.  

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Mike Richard replaced the door and the boards at the adoration chapel at Immaculate Conception Church in Denham Springs. Photo provide by Father Frank Uter

 

But adorers and volunteers have a sense of ownership, assuring the chapel will remain an integral part of a quiet, yet vibrant prayer life at ICC.  

“Everyone feels it is their chapel,” said Allison Renfrow, who is chapel co-coordinator along with Colleen Montgomery and Melinda Mayeaux. “I never changed out candles or added holy water to the fonts.”  

She pointed out one person supplies the chapel with blessed rosaries for adorers, some will take out the trash when it is full instead of waiting for the cleaning service to remove it and that artwork, books and even a bookcase, “just appear around the chapel.”  

Most recently, what began as an investigation into a crack in the ceiling led to volunteers remodeling the entire chapel.  

Jody Ramagos said while repairing the home of a parishioner he asked to look at a crack in the chapel ceiling.  

“When I turned on the light and pulled back the curtains it (the ceiling) looked like Frankenstein,” said Ramagos.  

He and fellow volunteer Diana Banta re-plastered and re-repainted the entire ceiling. Then they went to repaint the front porch ceiling, which then led to the replacement of the light fixture, cleaning and painting the fascia boards around the building, which the led to replacing some of the boards that had rotted. Ramagos and Banta ended up painting the entire chapel.  

“Fixing something that belongs to God, that’s the most satisfactory part,” said Banta. “Even though it belongs to the community, it’s all God’s.”  

Mike Richard, who often receives “come and look at this” requests from parishioners concerning the church and their homes, replaced the door and installed a new keypad and replaced the chapel’s facia boards.  

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As people anxiously await the re-opening of the adoration chapel at Immaculate Conception Church in Denham Springs, volunteers remodeled the interior and exterior of the chapel to provide a fresh look for adorers to enjoy while they pray. Photo by Richard Meek | The Catholic Commentator 

 

“God has given me the talent to fix things and if I can use that talent to help the church, that’s what I want to do,” said Richard, a member of the Knights of Columbus and Men’s Club.  

He points out to the Men’s Club things that need to be done around the church campus and works with them on the projects.  

He, as well as other volunteers, prefers to remain “in the background” and get things quietly done. But their contributions don’t go unnoticed by the ICC family. 

“We are blessed to have so many volunteers whom we can call on to take care of needs,” said ICC pastor Father Frank Uter, who is retiring. “As with the adoration chapel, fixing a seam in the ceiling ended up being a complete renovation of the interior and exterior of the chapel.  We didn’t ask them to do it. They saw the need and both pointed it out and took care of it.    

“Last week the Men’s Club was all out pressure washing the walks, cleaning the pool and fountains, even washing down the ceiling of the rectory front porch, so all would be looking really good for the arrival of Father Matthew Graham, our new pastor. I have found that I only have to mention there might be a need to do something, and parishioners are here and ready to take care of it.  They’re wonderful.”  

Adoration is currently being held in the church Monday ­­‑ Friday. While many are taking advantage of this opportunity, adorers are eager to get back to the chapel.  

“I have people who are really missing adoration and get calls and texts asking when it will open?” said Renfrow.  

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Jody Ramagos and Diana Banta repaired the adoration chapel ceiling and painted the entire adoration chapel at Immaculate Conception Church in Denham Springs.  Photo provided by Father Frank Uter 

 

Some committed adorers will spend multiple hours a week in the chapel, sometimes two hours back to back, filling in when other scheduled adorers are not able to make their hour, according to Renfrow.  

She, Mayeaux and Montgomery said being in the adoration chapel allows people to “withdraw from the world” and focus on God.  

“Parishioners will tell me ‘I feel like I’m listening to God,’ ” said Montgomery. Some pray in the chapel to grieve the loss of a loved one, like she did after her husband died in 2018, or to say prayers of praise or thanksgiving.  

Mayeaux noted that one family put flowers in front of the monstrance in thanksgiving for a baby being born.  

For Mayeaux, the chapel holds memories as well as prayers.  

“I miss being with the Lord there and the memories of my mom. She and I were prayer partners and when she couldn’t go I kept going and kept the same hours,” Mayeaux said.  

It’s also a place for instruction. Religious education teachers bring their classes in, RCIA sponsors bring their candidates in and adorers are notified that “people will be going in and out and there will be whispering as things are being explained.”  

It’s also a place of prayer for the church’s younger generations.  

“I walked in one time at 3 a.m., (for adoration) and the youth group was there. All 10 chairs were full and some youth were sitting on the floor. They committed to an hour in the middle of the night,” said Renfrow.  

And because the chapel is an important place of prayer on the campus, “keeping the light on” practically helps people “keep the light on” spiritually.  

“It all matters when you walk in – it’s the atmosphere,” said Renfrow.