SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital seeks to revitalize chapel Print E-mail
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Written by Kevin Wondrash, Catholic Herald Staff   
Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017 -- 12:00 AM
st marys chapel
Pictured is a rendering of what the renovated SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital chapel in Madison will look like at completion of the project, including the proposed stained glass windows, a larger and more prominent crucifix, and new lighting. (Contributed image)

MADISON -- SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital in Madison is making plans to undergo a spiritual beautification in its chapel

“The more beautiful, the more inviting a space can be, the easier it is for us to come in contact with the living God,” said Fr. Pat Norris, OP, hospital ethicist. “It facilitates people worshipping God.”

The hospital, through the work of the St. Mary’s Foundation, is looking to upgrade the current hospital chapel, which hasn’t seen any major modifications in the last 30 years.

Welcoming and beautiful

One of the major upgrades planned is the addition of stained glass windows.

While there is no natural light coming into the chapel, the windows will be backlit.

There will also be a larger crucifix, which will be “more prominent in the chapel itself and to focus people on the mystery of Christ’s holiness to suffer and die for us,” said Father Norris.

The hospital will also create a “warmer” environment, replacing the dark stone and paneling walls with light tones and increased lighting.

“The better it is for people to participate in worship, [there will be a] sense of warmth, sense of beauty that will be more inviting for people,” Father Norris added.

There will be efforts to create a more silent space in the chapel.

A current open hallway entrance will give way to doors leading to the chapel.

“That’s really going to make for a much more comforting space for people,” said Sandy Lampman, executive director of St. Mary’s Foundation.

“We hear God in the silence of our hearts,” said Father Norris. “[We] need to take away some of the distractions,” adding the hospital can be a noisy place with its cobblestone-like floors with carts moving over them, people talking, speaker announcements, and so on.

Doors to the chapel will “tell people I’m going from the secular into the sacred,” he said.

Part of its mission

The mission of SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital is “Through our exceptional health care services, we reveal the healing presence of God.”

Not only will the chapel serve the patients, but family members and staff as well.

Some staff members pray in the chapel at the start and end of their workdays.

Mass is also celebrated in the chapel every day, and the increased lighting will help patients in their rooms see the service better through the use of video technology.

Father Norris said there will be different lighting settings dependent upon what is taking place in the chapel such as Mass, Eucharistic Adoration, or opportunities for silent prayer time.

Volunteers help bring Communion to patients and family members every day.

Father Norris and other priests assist with sacramental needs such as anointings of the sick and baptisms.

“We see the sacramental life of the Church being played out every day here,” said Father Norris.

“We’re based in Catholic tradition and the faith and values of that,” said Lampman. “The chapel is core and central to our mission.”

Asking the community for help

The chapel project is estimated to cost around $750,000, and the hospital is asking the community for its help.

“Gifts from the community are going to be necessary for us to make this project happen,” said Lampman.

Many of the hospital’s major benefactors are in the midst of multi-year pledges with other projects, so more help is needed.

The giving has already started and more is encouraged.

A longtime hospital employee, Betsy Knight, has already promised to donate $20,000 to the project.

Knight set a challenge to the greater community, asking them to match that figure on Giving Tuesday, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 28.

“A lot of people have used the chapel over the years when they were in this hospital, and we’re asking them to consider that now,” said Lampman, adding it’s also a chance to celebrate the joy in giving along with Knight.

Lampman appreciates the generosity of the community, helping the foundation in the past few years supporting numerous hospital projects, and asked everyone to consider that generosity again.

So far, the foundation has raised about $80,000 to renovate the chapel.

For more information on how to donate to the chapel project on Giving Tuesday, go to

For more information on the project, contact St. Mary’s Foundation Executive Director Sandy Lampman at 608-258-5601 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or Hospital Ethicist Fr. Pat Norris, OP, at 608-258-6230 or patrick.norris@ssm

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