Glenn Evans rises each morning at 3:30 a.m. and goes to his home chapel for prayer and meditation before going to work.
“At that time of day, it’s dark and quiet. That’s when I can feel the divine spirit more,” said Evans, a lifelong Catholic raised in Marion County.
Homes are sanctuaries where we retreat from the hustle bustle of the world and its noisy distractions, and they frequently have features that reflect our interests: a comfy chair to read, a cozy kitchen, a workout room or a sewing room. But it’s not often you find one with a chapel.
Three years ago, when Evans, 53, moved from a downtown apartment into a house in the Glasford subdivision, he began thinking about a prayer and meditation room.
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“There are rules for a devotional room,” he said. For one thing, the room has to face east, as this one does.
He first thought was to turn the room into a home office. He’s glad now that he decided on a chapel.
“It serves me better than a home office would,” Evans said “I feel like I was guided by the Holy Spirit to do this.”
To enter, you first open a decorative iron grille that incorporates the Greek symbols Chi and Rho, the first two letters in Christ in Greek. On the door into the room is posted a small sign, “Cloister, do not enter.”
In the chapel, a kneeler faces a mahogany altar that Evans had made by a Connecticut craftsman. Over the altar hangs an antique crucifix from the Netherlands; on either side are statues of St. Joseph with the child Jesus, and Our Lady of Fatima.
Contributing to a church-like atmosphere is the brass incense burner, a purple-and-green altar cloth, religious paintings, a small font of holy water, and a sculpture of St. Michael the Archangel, with his foot on the head of the devil.
“St. Michael is the one who cast Lucifer out of heaven,” Evans said. “He’s the one you ask for intercession when you need help to fend off evil thoughts or anything that revolves around wrongdoing.”
From his collection of antique rosaries, Evans selects one and prays the rosary every morning. In his pocket he carries a small rosary and, occasionally, during the day, “I’ll slip my hand into my pocket, just as a reminder,” he said.
While planning the chapel, Evans began acquiring religious items: statues, artwork, artifacts, crucifixes and furniture. In the living room is a Gothic bishop’s chair from Belgium, and an antique presider’s chair, where a priest would sit. There’s an English communion table, and a grouping of nine small carved wooden monks holding their prayer books.
A pair of wall plaques depicting religious figures was bought at the Abbey of Gethsemani, a monastery in Nelson County of Trappist monks who live a life of prayer, work and contemplation. Evans has visited the abbey for weekend prayer retreats.
The religious pieces throughout the house are “constant reminders to bring your consciousness back to the divine. They bring my mind back to the Holy Trinity, and help keep me centered,” said Evans, a member of St. Peter Catholic Church parish. He shares his house with two puppies, Deacon and Bishop, and two cats, Church and Jiggs.
He was also drawn to “the beauty in that old Catholic memorabilia and those ceremonial things I can remember from my childhood.”
As a child, Evans attended St. Augustine School in Lebanon, run by the Sisters of Loretto, “one of the early orders of nuns in this country,” he said. One of the first items he bought was a Blessings Nun doll dressed in the traditional habit of the Sisters of Loretto. “It was for sentimental reasons because of my grade school connection,” he said.
In 2011, he earned a master’s degree in nursing administration at the University of Kentucky.
A few times Evans considered entering the priesthood. “It crossed my mind. I reflected on it, but I decided that was not what I was supposed to do.”
Nursing, like religious work, is a helping vocation. “I try to bring that helping quality to the bedside whenever I can,” said Evans, even though his current job is more administrative than clinical. He is a divisional charge nurse for hospital operations at the UK Healthcare Good Samaritan Hospital.
“People need to know there are people out there who have the ability to detach themselves from the chaos of regular life and put more emphasis on what lies beyond,” he said, and he’s pleased to share the story of his home chapel during the Christian season of Lent. “For the greater good of everyone, we need more prayer in the world.”
Contact Beverly Fortune at firstname.lastname@example.org