In the fall of 1998, Fr. James Kelleher, SOLT, founding president of Our Lady of Corpus Christi, was given the inspiration to build a world class perpetual adoration chapel. The chapel would be built in the shape of a cross, with a 75 foot blue dome adorned with gold stars to represent Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Star of the New Evangelization. Father pictured the chapel as having Spanish Colonial architecture and being able to hold 250 people. The chapel would be the heart of the campus at Our Lady of Corpus Christi through the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.
In January of 1999, Fr. Kelleher received a call from a man who he had met earlier that fall. The man had been watching coverage of Pope John Paul II’s visit to Mexico on EWTN, and he was inspired to call and ask what was happening at Our Lady of Corpus Christi. Fr. Kelleher responded by giving him the vision of a world-class perpetual adoration chapel. The man expressed his interest in supporting this vision and invited Fr. Kelleher to go with him to visit Mother Angelica’s world-class perpetual adoration church in Hanceville, Alabama. That very weekend, Fr. Kelleher found himself visiting Mother Angelica’s beautiful Shrine of the Blessed Sacrament at Our Lady of the Angels Monastery, which at the time was about 80% complete. On Saturday evening, the man revealed to Fr. Kelleher that God had given him the means to pay for all the architectural work for the chapel, and that he was going to donate the funds for it. That was the beginning of the donor’s, and later his family’s, involvement in building the beautiful Perpetual Adoration Chapel of Our Lady of Corpus Christi. This generous family went on to donate the funds for the architectural work and most of the Chapel. Without their philanthropy, the Chapel would not have been built. The family, who wish to remain anonymous, wanted to honor their late father by building an adoration chapel that glorified devotion to the Eucharist.
The initial design architect for the Chapel was Michael Imber from San Antonio, Texas. In March of 1999, Fr. Kelleher and the donor went to visit Mr. Imber to see some of his classical architectural work and to give him the vision for the perpetual adoration chapel. The chapel was to be in the Spanish Mission style, referring to the historic architecture of Texas, and reflect the missionary character of Our Lady of Corpus Christi.
Funds to build the chapel were still lacking, however in early May, Mr. Imber was given a grant to develop a world class design for a world class chapel, and chose Our Lady of Corpus Christi as the site. The designs were completed and approved by the middle of June.
The amazing thing about Michael Imber was that his primary work was designing homes, and he had never designed a church before. His design for the Chapel was so striking that it was featured in the book Reconquering Sacred Space: New Catholic Architecture for the New Millennium, which grew out of the conference in Rome at which the chapel design was presented.
Over the next 6 months, Mr. Imber handed off the project to José Molina, of Molina Walker Architects, Inc., in Houston, Texas. Mr. Molina and his team completed the final design and production drawings and oversaw the entire building process.
By autumn of 2001, all the architectural drawings were complete, and Barcom Commercial, owned by Dave and Eileen Hoffman, was selected to bring the drawings into reality.
Bishop Edmond Carmody presided over the groundbreaking ceremony on November 27th, 2001, the feast of the Miraculous Medal. The date of the groundbreaking ceremony was quite fitting because the primary donor had received a gold Miraculous Medal from Fr. Kelleher upon their first meeting three years prior, in November 1998.
Construction took place from November 27th, 2001 to February 1st, 2003. Many experienced builders were amazed that this world class chapel could be completed in just 14 months. This is attributable to the dedicated work of Barcom and the exceptional leadership of Bobbie Lee Bastow, OLCC comptroller, who had spent many years as an onsite construction comptroller overseeing multimillion dollar projects.
The interior of the chapel was transformed into sacred space by the artwork signed and executed by Talleres de Arte Granda, of Spain, whose liturgical artwork is exquisite both in beauty and workmanship. The altar, ambo, retablo, statues, crucifix, tabernacle, and monstrance were designed to match the architectural style of the chapel and also reflect the missionary character of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity. Talleres de Arte Granda also made the Stations of the Cross that hang throughout the main body of the church and the four outdoor statues, of St. Peter, St. Paul, St. Maximilian Kolbe and St. Therese de Lisieux.
Stained glass windows were designed by Botti Studio of Evanston, Illinois. In total, there are 24 stained glass windows. These marvelous and colorful pieces of art proclaim Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and the missionary activity of Holy Mother Church through the ages and specifically in the work of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity.
The consecration of Our Lady of Corpus Christi Perpetual Adoration Chapel took place at 6:00 pm on Saturday, February 1st, 2003, the Vigil of the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord. Bishop Edmond Carmody presided over the consecration Mass.
- Fall 1998: Fr. Kelleher has the inspiration to build a world class perpetual adoration chapel.
- November 1998: Fr. Kelleher meets one member of the donor family and his wife.
- January 1999: The donor and Fr. Kelleher travel to visit Mother Angelica’s Shrine of the Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, Alabama. The donor pledges support for the architectural work of the chapel.
- March 1999: The donor and Fr. Kelleher meet with Michael G. Imber, initial design architect for the chapel.
- May-June 2000: Michael Imber designs the chapel on a grant for a major architectural conference on sacred spaces.
- Summer 2001: Architectural drawings are completed by Molina Walker Architects, Inc.
- November 27th, 2001: Bishop Edmond Carmody presides over the groundbreaking ceremony.
- November 2001 to January 2003: The chapel is built.
- February 1st, 2003: Bishop Edmund Carmody presides over the consecration Mass of the Perpetual Adoration Chapel of Our Lady of Corpus Christi.