Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of November 20, 2006
Downtown 'oasis' now open for prayer
People jam 54-seat shopping mall chapel for blessing
By RAMON GONZALEZ
- WCR photo by Ramon Gonzalez
St. Benedict Chapel is on the third floor of the City Centre East Mall.
"He is not so much found in distant places but (as the Gospel tells us) he is found in the midst of the storm, in the midst of the struggle, in the midst of daily life. And that's why today we celebrate and thank God for St. Benedict's Chapel.
"Because here in the midst of the daily coming and going of life at the very heart of our busy city we now have an oasis of peace, a place of prayer, a sign of God's grace, a reaching out of his love to all."
The 1,200-square-foot chapel will offer three daily weekday Masses and a regular opportunity for the sacrament of Reconciliation for downtown workers and shoppers.
St. Benedict's will be open 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday to Friday. Mass will be celebrated at 7:15 a.m., 12:15 and 5:15 p.m. On Saturdays, it will be open from noon until 6 p.m. with Mass at 12:15 p.m.
Father Collins Okafor, a 47-year-old priest from Nigeria, is the chapel's full-time chaplain. Other priests, including Father Paul Moret, will assist him.
"The purpose of this chapel is to help us identify God in our midst," Okafor said at a Mass the previous day, Nov. 14. "This is a place to spend time with God in the midst of our busy life."
Fr. Collins Okafor
"I like it; I love the fact that it's downtown and it's very close to work," said Darren Brost, 27, who works two doors away from the chapel at Digital School. "It gives me a retreat during the business day. It's good to get away from work to this type of atmosphere."
Brost plans to attend Mass regularly during his lunch hour.
"This is something that people have been awaiting for some time and I think it is very gracious of the archbishop to do this," said A.J. Carson, a retired meat cutter who lives close to downtown.
"I feel we are very blessed to have this chapel here; I really think it is very much an oasis of peace and prayer," said lawyer Rosanna Saccomani, who works in one of the mall's business towers.
"What a beautiful opportunity it is for all of us!"
Collins has said he hopes to set up a roster of volunteers who will spend an hour of two a week at the chapel welcoming visitors. He also plans to establish an association of the patrons or friends of St. Benedict's Chapel -people who will donate regularly to pay for the cost of running the chapel.
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