St. Jude Chapel: An Oasis of Hope
Saint Jude Chapel, located in the throbbing heart of downtown Dallas, is rapidly becoming an oasis in the desert of big city business. Many a weary traveler is finding it to be a solemn refuge. Names of visitors from 32 countries, and from every state in the union, are scrawled across the pages of the chapel’s guest book.
Dedicated on September 15, 1968, the chapel is the full realization of a dream nurtured in the loving hearts of Arthur C. Hughes and a few of his friends, for more than a quarter of a century. Entering the quiet chapel through the doors of a 50 ft. frontage on Main Street, the impression is immediately drawn to a strikingly beautiful mosaic of the “Risen Christ,” extending upward 30 ft. behind the sanctuary. The flow of folds in Christ’s garment discounts any pull of gravity to defy the timeless existence of the image; the feet of Christ, turned downward, show they have no need of earthly support. The extended, open arms of the Risen Christ encourage the feeling of being welcomed by the Lord, Himself.
The sanctuary altar and the pulpit, constructed of verde isorie and verde fraye marbles, catch the rays of light to display the beauty of their deep blue and green stones. The altar is faced with a high relief of the Holy Family, done in white Carrara marble. The sanctuary floor imparts its beauty of Botticino marble. Bronze candlesticks and tabernacle rest on a marble table beneath the feet of the Risen Christ. A bronze communion rail, encompassing the sanctuary, depicts the symbols representing the apostles chosen by our Lord.
Stained glass windows are provided with illuminated panels depicting the different stages of our Lord’s suffering journey to Calvary and His death on the hill. With artificial light behind the illuminated panels, creating an illusion of sunlight, the chapel takes on a breadth greater than its actual dimensions. The cathedral sweep of the chapel ceiling is crowned with a stained glass skylight of four large panels.
On the three open sides of the sanctuary, pews of hand-rubbed American black walnut are group around the altar, so no one is more than seven pews away from the liturgical celebration. The seats of the pews and the kneelers are comfortably padded; the floor is carpeted, contributing to the stillness of the chapel.
People come and go at will throughout the day. Shoppers drop in to rest their tired feet while confiding their insufficiencies, problems and promises to God. Office workers and guests of the downtown hotels hurry to catch the daily Masses. Holy days of obligation fill the chapel’s seating capacity with 350 penitents, leaving an overflow standing in the lobby.
Priests are on hand to counsel, assist and console. No one is turned away. Generous hearted, dedicated individuals, chosen from the 70 volunteer working members of Saint Jude Guild are scheduled to answer telephones, keep records, set up appointments and assist those seeking information.
A new arrival in Dallas comes to say he has no job, no home for his family and no money. A young unwed expectant mother seeks advice concerning the abortion she has been ill-advised to secure. A father comes seeking relief from the anxiety he feels over a young son who was picked up by police on charges of possessing marijuana. A mother comes to ask what can be done about getting support from the husband who has abandoned her and the children. A prisoner needs legal counsel. A dying indigent needs a priest. Troubles are “wholesale”.
Those using the facilities of Saint Jude Chapel are of all faiths, or of no faith… they say… yet faith surely abides in the deep secret passages of the hearts of all who come to kneel before Christ, their King. They have known the healing balm of precious moments spent in silent meditation on the things of the spirit and have learned it is all important to their well-being.
Where there is faith, there abides hope; where there is hope, there abides love; where there is love, there is peace; and where peace dwells, there God is also present. Faith, hope, love and peace abide within the walls of Saint Jude Chapel. This is its big city business.
Written by Ila Peay