Ministry members in New Jersey preserve religious artifacts

December 1, 2012

Major components of the elegant 113-year-old neo-Baroque chapel from the defunct St. Vincent's Hospital of Manhattan, N.Y., and a stained glass window that had graced the lobby of the hospital are now at Catholic hospitals in New Jersey.

St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center of Paterson, N.J., unveiled and blessed the stained glass window depicting St. Vincent de Paul's healing ministry in September, on the feast of St. Vincent. The window is installed in St. Joseph's lobby.

The window depicts St. Vincent, patron saint of charitable societies, caring for a sick man. (St. Vincent's Hospital was founded by the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul.) The window was purchased for St. Joseph's through St. Vincent's $1 billion bankruptcy dissolution proceeding.

Sr. Maryanne Campeotto, SC, is vice president of mission for St. Joseph's parent, St. Joseph's Healthcare System. She said the Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth, who founded St. Joseph's, have a special affinity for St. Vincent, and so they were very interested in the window and hoped to acquire it for the hospital. William Keeley, a retiree who has contributed to Sisters of Charity causes in the past, bought the window and paid for its restoration and installation at St. Joseph's.

Religious artifacts and major architectural components of St. Vincent's St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Chapel, are in storage at Saint Peter's Healthcare System of New Brunswick, N.J. Saint Peter's promised to keep the chapel largely intact when it made a $250,000 bid for the chapel and its contents. That promise carried the day with the Sisters of Charity, who accepted the system's low bid, said Phil Hartman, vice president and chief communications officer for the Saint Peter's system. "Others bid higher numbers but wanted to take it piecemeal and sell it for various purposes."

Baker Liturgical Art, a specialist in relocating religious buildings, dismantled the chapel and moved 13 stained glass windows, a tabernacle, a marble altar and lectern, pews and kneelers, marble statues, brass altar candles, plaster Stations of the Cross and other religious artifacts into storage in the basement of a Saint Peter's facility last year.

The health system will incorporate much of the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Chapel in the new chapel it plans to build in the conference center at Saint Peter's University Hospital in New Brunswick as part of a reconfiguration of that campus, Hartman said.

In a letter to employees last year, Ronald C. Rak, president and chief executive of Saint Peter's Healthcare System, said the chapel represents "a piece of the church's storied past in the delivery of health care." The opportunity to purchase and preserve the chapel came at a modest cost that would be offset by philanthropy, he said. "It is our goal to pay for the entire project — from disassembly to reconstruction — primarily through donated funds," Rak wrote. A fundraising campaign is under way. A time line for chapel reconstruction has not yet been announced.


Copyright © 2012 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States
For reprint permission, contact Betty Crosby or call (314) 253-3477.

Copyright © 2012 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States

For reprint permission, contact Betty Crosby or call (314) 253-3490.