CHAPIN—Our Lady of the Lake Church took a historic step March 15 with a momentous ceremony for their new church.
Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone presided with the assistance of the pastor, Father Andrew Vollkommer.
The parish is in a rapidly growing part of the Midlands, serves about 825 households and is feeling the space constraints of the church, which was completed in 1978.
Father Vollkommer said the new church will be the result of nearly a decade of planning and fundraising.
“We were originally going to renovate the old church, but found out structurally that was not possible,” the pastor said.
With funds raised as part of a capital campaign, the parish was able to purchase five acres adjacent to their property two years ago. Father Vollkommer said the new site is part of a master plan which may eventually include additional parking, an early childhood development center, a youth center and space to expand the cemetery.
The new church will cost an estimated $4 million and was designed by LS3P of Greenville and Columbia. Construction will be done by Mashburn, Inc. of Columbia.
Plans call for the structure to be about 14,500 square feet, in a design known as modern Gothic revival. The building will be shaped in the form of a cross and seat about 650, with the capability to eventually expand the right and left transepts to create seating for 1,000.
“The current church is kind of modern and ‘church in the round,’ and people were asking for a more traditional look,” Father Vollkommer said.
One of the highlights will be eight stained glass windows that came from the former
Monastery of the Dominican Sisters of the Perpetual Rosary in Union City, New Jersey, also known as “The Blue Chapel.”
Father Vollkommer said the parish worked with Sacred Spaces, a Virginia liturgical design company, to find and acquire the windows. They paid $40,000 for the set.
According to historic material provided by Sacred Spaces, the original monastery was abandoned in 2008 and since then workers have been trying to find other homes for the many pieces of sacred art it contained.
The eight stained glass windows were made at Buffalo Glass Works in New York by well-known stained glass artist Leo P. Frohe, who created them in the spirit of the Munich School style of glass, which was common in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
The set of windows was once called “the poor man’s Bible” by Frohe and his contemporaries because they offered a physical way for worshippers to experience the transcendence of God.
Five of the windows depict the joyful mysteries of the rosary, and the other three show images of the Sacred Heart appearing to St. Gertrude, Jesus’ agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, and Mary’s coronation in heaven.
The windows are being restored at a Charlotte studio that specializes in stained glass.
Father Vollkommer said several new features will make both worship and fellowship easier. An expanded narthex will allow more space for processions to form and for parishioners to gather before and after Mass. Plans also call for separate vesting rooms for the priest and altar servers, a cry room which can double as a bride’s dressing room, a bell tower with functioning bells, a free-standing confessional, and sacristy and utility space behind the altar.
The choir loft will have two staircases, one equipped with a chair lift for the disabled. The prayer life at the parish will also be enhanced by a chapel for perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
Terry Macaluso, who chaired the building committee along with fellow parishioner Beth Smith, said the groundbreaking was a new beginning for Our Lady of the Lake.
“I think it will be a sense of rebirth and hopefully a rallying point for the parish,” he said. “It’s been needed for a long time, and there’s really a sense of relief that we finally saw it happen.”
Father Vollkommer said construction will hopefully take about eight months.