Mass Celebrates Support for Chapel Restoration

October 29, 2011 – Cardinal Theodore McCarrick presided at a Mass of Thanksgiving at Georgetown Saturday in honor of the donors who contributed $6 million toward a much-needed restoration of the university’s Dahlgren Chapel.

The restoration has already begun, thanks to the support of L. Francis (C’75, L’78) and Kathleen (F’77) Rooney of Naples, Fla. Other donors also have contributed to support the more than $7.5 million cost of the renovation.

Francis Rooney was U.S. ambassador to the Vatican from 2005-2008.

“This chapel is at the heart of everything we are,” President John J. DeGioia said, “and to be able to secure the stability of this chapel ensures we have a foundation which we can explore in the future.”

DeGioia also said the Rooneys' gift was “an answer to our prayers” and allows the university to start the work right away.

“We could not reimagine Dahlgren's future without the dedication and generosity of the Rooney family,” said Rev. Kevin O’Brien, S.J., vice president for mission and ministry. Francis and Kathleen met here as students and this place was important to their faith. And they want to share that gift now with generations of students.”

A Special Thanks

McCarrick opened the Mass with a thanks to the Rooneys and an appreciation to God for ensuring that Georgetown remains a Catholic university of excellence.

"It's a very special moment and a very special time," he said. "This Mass is a time to say thank you for an extraordinary [gift] from [the Rooneys]," who have made previous, generous gifts to the university.

"I thank God for continuing to make sure that this Jesuit, Catholic institution remains always at the forefront of American Catholic education," McCarrick added.

The Mass took place during the launch weekend for the university’s For Generations to Come: The Campaign for Georgetown.

Generous Donations

It was another couple, John and Elizabeth Dahlgren, who in 1893 provided the funds to create the chapel – the university’s first building completely funded by philanthropy. The current restoration is also being funded entirely through gifts.

Dahlgren Chapel, which serves as home to Georgetown’s Catholic community, is the site of daily Masses and six regularly scheduled Sunday Masses, as well as other sacraments, including up to four weddings on Saturdays.

The restoration, expected to take about two years, will address structural issues such as shoring up the chapel’s foundation that created cracks in walls and stained glass windows.

“This will allow the work of Dahlgren to continue, the liturgical life, the prayer life and the worship that goes on in the chapel,” O’Brien said.

Dahlgren will remain open during the restoration except for weekdays during short periods of time. A fence has been erected around the chapel site to provide continued safety for pedestrians.

Attendees at the Mass were treated to a performance by the Georgetown University Chapel Choir, which sang for Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican this past May.