The Badger Catholic recently covered a chapel about to be destroyed up in the Green Bay Diocese (something which I thought I chimed in on… must have been on Facebook?). He recently posted an update on the progress of that destruction which, for now, at least, has been postponed!
What’s known as the “Red Chapel,” is owned by the Diocese of Green Bay and was scheduled to be demolished this summer, but the Diocese now says that plan is on hold.
I think this is a really good development, even if it is a little disheartening. Why disheartening? I think it is an embarrassment that Catholics need to turn to secular institutions (in this case, the Brown County Historical Society) to save our Catholic landmarks. As the earlier article noted, construction of the chapel started at the same time as the construction of the Green Bay cathedral. Now, while a chapel might not be a priority (as it hasn’t been, for the last 40 years), there’s still something to be said for saving our old Catholic structures. If we let everything pass into decay that is old, what will we have left? Probably won’t be that pretty. Plus, what has Europe been doing for the last few centuries? Their cemeteries are usually comprised of super old buildings and structured, preserved for use, and continually used. We need to end this American habit of “have it built, wait a few decades, tear it down, and start all over.” The loss of identity, roots, and tradition is the root of some American ills, I’m convinced.
On Facebook, there is a page “Preserve the Red Chapel” and they have posted a photo album of the current condition of the chapel. I think it’d be particularly wonderful if they were able to restore the chapel and restore it to monthly use, and have traditional Requiem Masses said for the dead buried in the cemetery and diocese! Heck, even the altar has been untouched, having been not-used since the 1970s…
And, according to the news, it seems the cost to restore it is around $200,000. Doesn’t seem all that terrible, all things considered. It’d be really neat to see some traditional group get together, work with the Diocese and Historical Society, and start a perpetual Mass society for the Poor Souls in Purgatory. There’s only a handful of groups I can think of that provide such a society (the monks at Papa Stronsay and St. John Cantius down in Chicago are the only two I can think of off-hand). But, it also seems like you could even try to wrap such a society “into” the plots at the cemetery for a “lower” cost, if the cemetery would want to “play ball” (both the cemetery and Diocese would need to be “in on it,” I think). I know I’d be looking to get a plot in a cemetery that had Masses said for me each month (is this standard at Catholic cemeteries? I don’t really know). To get the $200,000 to restore, you’d need 1,500 enrollees in the society (a lot, but for a lifetime membership and monthly Masses, with a suggested donation of $150 per enrollee….). But, if you offered that option to people who purchase plots in the future as well, that’s a bit ‘easier’ to manage. I think it’s a great idea! Maybe I should write a letter to someone in the Green Bay Diocese?
Regardless, it seems this little chapel might still be preserved! Let us pray they raise the money!