The OLSH Chapel
photo by Terry Clark Photography
The Chapel is the central building on the OLSH property. The Chapel connects the right wing of the building, the convent of the Felician Sisters of Coraopolis, and the left wing, the main OLSH school building.
History of the Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Chapel
The chapel is a “beautifully constructed edifice dominated by a double-faced main altar.” Until the renovation which took place in 2003, one side of the altar looked upon the Sisters' chapel while the other side faced the public chapel. When plans were being made for the green renovation of the motherhouse and school, the decision was made to turn the Sisters' chapel into a much needed gathering space, as changes made during Vatican II allowed the Sisters to worship with the lay congregation.
Designed and built by Moroder Studios, the altars and communion rails for the OLSH chapel arrived in Coraopolis on February 11, 1932 from Genoa, Italy, in 43 boxes upon the boat Excalibur. The chapel, like the school, was completed in 1932 with the formal blessing taking place on the Feast of Corpus Christi, Thursday, May 26, 1932. Letters to Mother Mary Leona Chojnacka, then OLSH Provincial Superior and director of the construction in Coraopolis, from the Alphonse Moroder, kin to the artist of the Moroder Studios in Tyrol and their representative in the United States, contained summaries of what was planned for the high alter. “He promised to provide for the high alter: a tabernacle of hardwood with richly carved symbols; an exposition throne from the Blessed Sacrament resting on four columns and flanked by angels with censors; two smaller angles holding a crown over the exposition throne; three angels holding scrolls bearing the word “Sanctus,” and three carrying emblems of Faith, Hope, and Charity respectively; four angels holding candelabra and two kneeling in prayer.”
“Further specifications for the main altar – in kiln-dried oak of egg-shell finish – included the following: It would measure thirty feet in height and sixteen feet in width; the mensa [(the flat, horizontal surface of the altar] would measure ten feet by twenty-four inches; a three-dimensional da Vinci relief of the Last Supper would front the mensa; for side panel, the artist promised to provide a pelican and a deer at the fountain of living water. On the choir side, the emblem of St. Francis would front the mensa, and “IHS” and “Maria” monograms would flank the central motif to right and left. At the back of the antependium was a niche to hold the statue of St. Francis recumbent in his grave. Both this statue of St. Francis and the strikingly beautiful statues of the Virgin Mary and of the Sacred Heart placed on the side altars in the public chapel were gifts of Alphonse Moroder to the Felician Sisters.”
The resulting altar was true to the artists’ promises and upon first viewing the completed chapel the sisters prayed invoking blessing and thanking God for his great goodness.
(excerpts are from One of the Family: History of the Felician Sisters Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Province 1920-1977, by Sister Mary Jane Kadyszewski, CSSF)
OLSH Chapel Today
The Chapel remains a special place for OLSH students and the entire OLSH community. In addition to regular school Masses, the chapel is host to many special occasions in the life of OLSH students, such as Ring Day, the Senior Blessing Service, and Baccalaureate Mass. In addition, there is a group of students and faculty called the Eucharistic Adorers who receive a reflection once a month and are committed to going to the chapel at least once a week.