THE HISTORY OF OUR CHAPEL
Dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Consecrated on Christmas Eve 1897
"An oratory should be built as conveniently as possible among the cells;
where, if it can be done without difficulty, you are to gather daily each morning
to participate in the celebration of Mass." Rule of St Albert: 12
The building of the beautiful little chapel attached to St. Joseph's Monastery took place during 1896 and 1897.
This put the finishing touch to the new foundation begun sixteen years earlier and was to the great joy of the nuns. The first Mass was celebrated on Christmas Eve 1897.
Before the building of the chapel, daily Mass was celebrated in part of the house that had been converted into a temporary chapel. It later became the chapter room and a room for cutting altar breads. In the early days a glass "sugar bowl" served as a humble sanctuary lamp.
foundation stone for the chapel was laid by Dr. William Walsh, Bishop
of Dublin, on 4th June 1896. The chapel was built and left free of debt
during Mother M.Xavier Reilly's term of office as Prioress (she died in
1907). The building was carried out principally by means of the
generous gifts of Mother M.Michael's relations and other good friends
and benefactors of the community (see below). Mr. Charles Kennedy
(Mother Micheal's brother-in-law) personally took charge of the
building process, acting as advisor to the community. Mr. Ashlin was
the architect and Mr. Mackey the builder.
chapel is approximately 22 feet wide and 53 feet long - the choir
being 35.5 feet and the sanctuary area 17.5 feet long).
The dedication of the new chapel to the Sacred Heart of Jesus took place on December 24th 1897 by Very Rev. Canon Matthews P.P. Dundrum. An unforgettable incident on this great occasion was the difficulty experienced by the priest in opening the tabernacle. The Prioress saved the situation by ascending the altar steps and opening the tabernacle herself.
Early Benefactors to the Chapel:
Many of these people also donated towards the house and grounds -
lower part of the sanctuary walls were overlaid in marble, work beginning in 1913. This
was made possible by the generosity of Miss Madeleine Sampson who later
entered this monastery as Sr. Therese de L'Enfant Jesu.
Vatican II, alterations to the sanctuary area were necessary. This
reconstruction took place during July 1973. The Architect was Mr. E.
Smith and the constructor Mr. Roe. The altar was moved forward and the
tabernacle mounted on a marble pillar. Our Lady's altar was also
altered with the lower portion of the altar moved inward. During
this work, the Blessed Sacrament was reserved in the nun's choir, to
their great joy. Two years later, the complete chapel, including choir
area, was redecorated and this time the Blessed Sacrament was
reserved in the Chapter Room.
1982 and 1983 brought our little chapel into many homes and hospitals
when R.T.E. Radio Masses were broadcast live. It was a special
privilege for the community and is still talked about today.
During planning for the building of the new monastery in 2003-4 it was decided to retain the old chapel which was structurally sound, and to incorporate it into the new building. So, it now forms one side of our monastery cloister, and the old stone work of the chapel wall gives the cloister a real monastic feel!
During the building process, the secular chapel was extended by 8 feet by moving the rear wall back and inserting a new window. This work was carried out precisely, with the stones being carefully numbered and photographed to allow the new chapel wall to match with the existing old wall. The chapel can now comfortably hold up to fifty people for Mass. On very big occasions, extra chairs are put in the nuns choir for the "overflow"! Also in 2004, the inside of the chapel was completely redecorated and the bell was automated.
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© 2011 Carmelite Sisters, Kilmacud