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Catholic Students Push for New Chapel

By Caitlin Walsh, Special to the Chronicle

Catholic students at Hofstra are pushing for a chapel on campus in order to have their own space to pray.

Currently, the Catholic Campus Ministry, run by the diocese of Rockville Center, uses the Greenhouse in the Student Center for its Masses every Sunday and Wednesday night. The chapel set up is in a box and the altar table is on wheels so they can be put away after every Mass.  

Kristina Viscariello, president of the Newman club, the student-run Catholic club on campus, said the push for the chapel sprung out of a desire for Newman club to have an office. "[A chapel] would be nice to just have our own space for our own stuff because Newman is separate from campus ministry," Viscariello said.

The reason for requesting a chapel on campus is more personal to Viscariello. She would like the "stop in and say hi to Jesus on a bad day but I can't do it here."

The ongoing effort from Viscariello and other Catholic students prompted Catholic Campus Minister Roselyn Scavuzzo to meet with Peter Libman, Dean of Students, to discuss the possibility of a chapel on campus. Hofstra's Chaplain, Rev. Joseph Fitzgerald, was also present. Scavuzzo said the meeting went well.

"[Dean Libman] was really open to what we had to say," Scavuzzo said.

"Most of all we just spoke about what the students are saying because that's really where it's coming from," she said. Scavuzzo said students have expressed their need for a place to pray.

The chapel could also be used to store a tabernacle, which is incredibly important to Catholics.

Scavuzzo said that  "everyone's looking for more space. Real Estate is in high demand."

Francesca Merians-Crooks, a junior biology major, said she "doesn't have any religious beliefs," and is fine with a chapel on campus "as long as it's open to anyone of any religious or spiritual beliefs." Crooks expressed that having a chapel open to only one denomination "then it wouldn't be fair" to the other religious groups on campus. 

"You can observe your faith anywhere," she added. "It shouldn't really be about the environment."

The organization of the Catholic Campus Parish was one of the reasons why Victoria Liro stopped attending Mass on campus in the fall of 2007. Liro said she couldn't even find the Greenhouse at first. She "didn't realize you had to go through the cave and all that weird stuff next to the Rathskeller."

When Liro finally found the place, she was disappointed. "It's not fully equipped; it feels to me like a half-assed kind of deal."

To Liro, the Greenhouse "is not a good environment to have a worship place." She doesn't like the fact that the room can be used for so many other things.

If there were a chapel on campus, Liro said she would definitely use it, especially on Sunday mornings. "It's more like what I do in my normal church routine."

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