The heart of the Sisters’ home, the chapel at St. Joseph Hill convent is a beautiful place of prayer and refection. Many elements from the shining new floor to the sparkling chandeliers give the impression that this chapel is brand new. The Sisters ensured the worship space preserved many pieces of the Province’s history.
Let us take you on a tour of the history of the Chapel…
Stained Glass Windows
Many have remarked on the beauty of these magnificent glass structures. But the beauty of these windows goes beyond the colors and images. Originally placed in the Sisters’ former convent, Villa Madonna in Allamuchy, New Jersey, these windows had to be fitted into the architectural plans for the new chapel. Due to thick antebellum walls, there were structural limitations. In order to recycle these windows, pieces needed to be added. Fortunately, some of the stained glass windows from the former St. Joseph Hill convent chapel survived. Joann from Sundog Stained Glass saved both the Fleur de Lis (a symbol of St. Joseph) and the English Rose (symbolizing the Mystical Rose, a name used to describe the Blessed Mother) from each of the damaged windows. By marrying these windows from two former chapels, the Sisters were able to surround themselves with familiar images.
Stations of the Cross
Sadly, the Sisters ministry at St. Mary’s Residence in Detroit, MI was turned over to new caregivers. Fortunately, the Sisters were able to take the religious articles from the home’s chapel. Many of these items have found a new home at the St. Joseph Hill convent chapel. The most prominently featured of these articles are the Stations of the Cross. These plaques that once surrounded the residents in Detroit will now teach the students at St. Joseph Hill about the sacrifice Jesus made for his followers.
St. Augustine Statue
When religious orders form, they need to select a rule to follow. In the 1800s, Foundress of the Daughters of Divine Charity, Mother Franziska Lechner, turned to St. Augustine. When creating the outline for her Sisters to follow in their community life, Mother Franziska included codes to govern areas including poverty, obedience, charity, prayer in common, fasting and chastity and care of the sick. In the back of chapel is a large statue of St. Augustine. This statue was a gift to the Sisters from Connie Moy, a Divine Charity Associate from Detroit, Michigan. The Statue was also at St. Mary’s Residence but now enjoys a prominent place at the new chapel.
St. Joseph Statue
The Sisters that reside at St. Joseph Hill convent have a special devotion to St. Joseph, their patron saint. For decades this statue stood outside the entry to the convent chapel. Although the American provinces merged and are now known as the Holy Family Province, the Sisters here at Hill wished to have a small area of prominence for St. Joseph. Today, St. Joseph stands surrounded by windows in the center of a niche off the chapel where one can quietly pray and meditate.
This beautiful stained glass window of the foundress of the Daughters of Divine Charity was in the rear of the old chapel. As all visitors now come to the convent, this magnificent image will be available for all to see and reflect on the good
works carried out by her spiritual daughters. Mother Franziska was a woman who responded to the needs of the women of her day, especially young women. She saw the value of education and how fitting that her image should be in this convent on the grounds of St. Joseph Hill Academy, an exemplary school for young women!
This almost life-sized portrait of Mother Koska Bauer greets all those who pass by on their way into the chapel. Mother Koska was instrumental in encouraging the Sisters to come to the United States, was the first provincial of the newly formed St. Joseph Province and became Superior General of the Daughters of Divine Charity. She originally purchased the land in Arrochar where now stands this beautiful convent for the Sisters and chapel where anyone can come and find peace within its walls.
Timothy Cardinal Dolan wished to make a gift to the Sisters after the fire that destroyed their home. Both the Altar of Sacrifice and the Altar of Repose were in a warehouse when Sister Regina found them. Ironically, these pieces originally belonged to a small church located just a “stone’s throw” from St. Joseph Hill. The Cardinal was so pleased to give them to the Sisters knowing that these beautiful altars would find new life so close to their original home.
The Sisters love their new chapel and hope that someday all of their friends and benefactors get an opportunity to come and see the beauty for themselves!