A surprise under the old carpet in St. John’s Chapel

Jan 14, 2016
From Cardinal Newman Mass

Star Lumber entered St. John’s Chapel on Newman University campus this week to install new carpet. The new carpet is thanks, in part, to a donation from the Student Government Association, which SGA President Brandon Gollhofer is excited about.  The rest of the project is paid by St. John’s Chapel funds.

The installment began Monday, Jan. 11. While pulling up the old carpet, the Star Lumber crew uncovered an old patterned image in the floor – serving as a reminder that St. John’s Chapel has been around since 1922 when Sacred Heart Hall was built.

St. John's Chapel
St. John’s Chapel floor

According to Director of Mission Effectiveness and Archives Charlotte Rohrbach, ASC, the image seems to be a design that was popular in the 1970s due to the colors. The design seems to harken to a weaving pattern inspired by Native American quilting and the image is found only on the center aisle of the chapel.

But Sister Charlotte remembered something different in the chapel when she attended Newman in the late 1950s. She remembers the floors of St. John’s Chapel being wooden, with different pews than the ones that are currently in place. There was also a long carpet in the center aisle stretching from the doors of the chapel to the altar.

The discovery of the hidden image aside, many faculty, staff and community members are happy with the installation of the new carpet.

Monica Borger, administrative assistant to the Newman University Campus Ministry, thanked the Student Government Association its help with the project.

“We are excited for the new carpet and to begin this process to renovate the place where we worship,” Borger said.

The new carpet in the chapel is expected to be fully installed by the end of this week – just in time for Mass this Sunday and the start of the Spring 2016 semester.

UPDATE – March 11, 2016: A commenter to this story, Gene Wetter ’59, provided a scanned image of St. John’s Chapel during the first all-student daily Mass taken from a 1958 copy of “The Dial” – the college yearbook back when Newman University was named Sacred Heart Academy. The photo shows the same design in the floor before carpet was installed. Read more of Newman University’s history here.

1958 – St. John’s Chapel during the first all-student Mass.