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Catholic college wants new chapel

CRESTVIEW HILLS — A Roman Catholic college in Northern Kentucky is seeking to make room for the Masses.

Thomas More College is trying to raise $3.5 million for a free-standing chapel on campus to replace a 110-person chapel in the student union.

The 300-plus seat facility would be used to fit in crowds for Masses, Sister Margaret Stallmeyer, the college president, told The Kentucky Enquirer.

"A chapel has been on the minds of this college community for 20 to 30 years," Stallmeyer said. "It would be such a visual sign of our faith and would become a landmark for the campus."

Currently, larger services are held in an auditorium instead of the student union chapel. Stallmeyer said a new chapel also will give alumni a place to have weddings and could host community religious events.

Stallmeyer said she recognizes that college students' commitment to faith can become tested.

"The college years are years of searching, and a chapel won't change that," she said. "But the chapel will be there when they're looking for something greater than themselves."

Fund-raising began with a $500,000 commitment from the Diocese of Covington. Several parishes around Northern Kentucky have donated as well, combining for more than $250,000. Early private donations have pushed the fund to nearly $1 million.

Stallmeyer hopes to complete fund-raising in 12 to 18 months but recognizes concerns about the economy could be problematic.

"The support we've received so far is a sign from the diocese that we are a part of the bigger church," she said.

Bill Zeck, a former chairman of the board of trustees at the college who helped Stallmeyer with fund-raising, said a new chapel is important to the Catholic identity of the college.

"It's not a great time to be asking for money, but people have been generous, and we're optimistic that it will stimulate others to step forward," Zeck said.

Construction probably won't begin until all of the money is raised, he said.