Valparaiso | With the Brandt Campanile towering overhead, members of the Valparaiso University community welcomed a new era for the Chapel of the Resurrection on Saturday afternoon.
Nearly 200 staff, students, alumni and friends gathered for the groundbreaking of a $15 million 11,000-square-foot addition to the chapel, a gift to the university from the Rev. Mark and Kathy Helge, 1971 Valparaiso University graduates.
The addition, which will adjoin the chapel on its southwest side, will house a community gathering space and kitchen, hospitality areas, music rehearsal rooms, staff offices, and green space.
In his welcome remarks, university president Mark Heckler deemed the groundbreaking ceremony a “very auspicious occasion,” with the university community and area officials, including Valparaiso mayor Jon Costas and state senator Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso, in attendance.
Heckler thanked the Helges, whom he said “believe strongly in the power of a Lutheran education” and are “loyal and irreplaceable friends” in their service to the university.
Kathy Helge read a portion of the sermon delivered at an event marking the 10th anniversary of the chapel, at which she was present.
“This groundbreaking today says that this chapel is an explicit witness to our faith … a reverberating ‘yes’ to mission,” said Helge. “It’s God’s work, our hands.”
Mark Helge said the VU community is “blessed with a unique and wonderful history and future.”
“We are deeply involved in this place in order that our hearts are given hope,” said Helge.
Heckler said the chapel is the “heart of this campus … a place reflective of the motto by which we live.”
In the chapel, said Heckler, the “relationship to Valpo begins,” as students spend their “most formative moments” there, assembling on the first day of college and returning for graduation day.
The ceremony was marked with scripture readings, hymns, and performances by the Valparaiso University Kantorei, the Handbell Choir, and the Praise Band.
Heckler said the addition will also bring together several campus ministries, including Church and Community Relations and the Institute for Leadership and Service, in addition to providing office space for university pastors and chapel staff. The building was designed by Nagle Hartray Architecture of Chicago.
As the Helges and Heckler turned spades of earth, the audience stood on a yellow line in the grass that marked the perimeter of the new building.
“As you have filled in the space, you get a vision of how this building will be,” said Charlene Rachuy Cox, a university pastor.
“Mark and Kathy, we thank you for making this possible,” said Heckler, who invited the crowd to use the white plastic toy shovels provided to “turn a little earth and be a part of the party.”