Do you think the chapel moving to Holy Cross is too big of a change for St. Thomas University? Well, you ain’t seen nothing. I’ve been here since the beginning, the very beginning. There’s been lots of remodeling over the years.
I was there when God made the chapel on the first day. I was going to help him with the whole “creation of everything” thing but he looked like he was really getting into it and I’ve worked with artists before. I don’t do perfectionists.
So, God made the chapel on that beginning of beginnings and it looked pretty decent. Mind you, he hadn’t separated light and dark yet, so even Lazarus would have looked “pretty decent.” When God finally installed the sun, I could see his handiwork. It was more of a clearing in the woods than a building, but I lied and told him I liked it. What else could I do? I didn’t want to hurt his feelings; this was his first day too. Besides, it worked all the same. We’d sing, dance and howl naked at the moon just like any regular church. We had a few more human sacrifices back then, but overall the amount of suffering has stayed constant. Sure, we lived under constant fear of death at the stake, but you guys have to deal with the student loan office. We had the inquisition; you have Moodle. Whatever.
Eventually we were deemed undeserving of Paradise (I may or may not have brought a certain apple crumble to the annual potluck) and we humans got the boot from the Garden of Chatham and made the move to Fredericton. It wasn’t all bad. We spent 40 years wandering aimlessly, but we stopped in Quebec for booze. When we settled down, we decided to rebuild the chapel. “This time: walls” we all agreed. Walls were a big deal design-wise.
Saint Thomas Aquinas used to give lectures in that chapel, mostly on natural laws, metaphysics and the correct way of ordering the big breakfast. After we invented last names, we decided to name the university after him. We didn’t do it because he was a great theologian philosopher or anything like that, but he’d licked the pee ball on a dare and we all felt bad for him. He was fun at parties though. If Jesus’ blood was wine, Tom’s must have been moonshine.
The more I think about it, there are a lot of parallels between the early days of this university and now. Moses used to argue all the time he should be able to bring his tablet to class. Noah almost got expelled for plagiarizing Gilgamesh’s work. We lived next door to Goliath, Birkenstocks are still the footwear of choice and Malcolmson’s still here.
A lot has changed, too. Back then it was true that, like now, only about 70 people attended mass at the chapel, but back then there hadn’t been a lot of begetting, and 70 people was most of the town. We were more religious. I get that. But why do we need more “common space” when student enrolment is going down? I’ve heard rumours of a second cafeteria going in that space. What are we converting to: the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster?
I’m going to miss that chapel. It’s not because I remember when Luther tried hammering his 95 Theses to its door only for us to embarrassingly discover he didn’t even cite his sources, or that whenever I drink a bottle of water in there I seem to get drunk off my ass, it’s that the chapel has always been there when we needed it. From wood to brick to marble to drywall to the miracle of polyester, the chapel has always stood as somewhere spiritual and forgiving in the heart of the university, always ready for us if we needed it.
And besides, this is Canada. It’s cold. I don’t want to walk to Holy Cross in -38C. I’m no martyr.
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