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The Chapels Around Campus & How I Ended Up In One

A. F. Siebert Chapel is a landmark on Carthage’s campus. The tall spire, stain glass windows, the bells that ring every hour, and the events that occur there. Chances are, every student has been inside, even if it was just for freshmen orientation or the annual Christmas Festival. However, this large chapel isn’t the only place of worship on campus.

You may have noticed the small buildings next to the library or by Oaks Circle. These are small meditation chapels that are open for personal use, and that may not always include religious reasons or reasons of worship in any way.

“I think the two outer chapels are unused gems,” Campus Pastor Kara Baylor explains. “There is also something wonderful about it being tucked away and feeling both private and open.”

The Joan C. Potente Chapel is the one you’ll pass during your walk to Oaks Circle. The Carthage website focuses on how the building is constructed in order to keep the occupants comfortable and calls the space an “oasis.” Pastor Baylor mentions how this location was used this last spring after Griffin Schumow was killed in a horrible accident near campus. Students who knew him gathered here to speak about and honor his memory.

Next to the library, situated in a grove of trees, is the Walter Fritsch Meditation Chapel. It contains 40 seats and its purpose is for small groups and individuals to meditate privately. It is also used for Eucharist and prayer services. Kara Baylor speaks about these spaces in times of need, saying, “I do find out from time to time that they are used more than I imagine because people tend to use them in personal moments of reflection and prayer.”

This is the chapel I ended up in unexpectedly one night. It was not planned ahead of time, nor was it for a moment of prayer. I was simply walking to my car when I suddenly became overwhelmed with everything that comes with being a college student. It’s been a semester filled with stacking responsibilities, a full class schedule, thesis, and balancing four jobs. It was late, and it all seemed to hit me at once.

I happened to be walking past the Fritsch Chapel at that moment, and for the first time in the three years that I’ve been attending Carthage, I crossed the street to the private sidewalk leading up to the doors and entered the building. It’s the perfect place to compose yourself after a long day – quiet, private, and relatively small. In about ten minutes, I was able to leave feeling better than before. Pastor Baylor’s words on how the spaces can be used for reflection have never resonated with me more.

Although deemed a “chapel,” you do not need to be religious to appreciate these spaces or to find peace in them. I encourage everyone to take a moment to check it out; it may be exactly what you need, and if not, you can still admire the beauty of them.

Emily is a senior at Carthage College double majoring in English, with an emphasis in creative writing, and theatre, with an emphasis in costume design. She has also studied writing at Columbia University in the City of New York and The Second City - Chicago. Some of Emily's talents include eating large portions of pasta, quoting 80s romantic comedies, and unwanted Louis Armstrong impressions. These will all be very useful for her future career in television writing and producing.