By SUE SUCHYTA
DEARBORN – Parishioners and priests at Divine Child Catholic Church were inspired to create a snow chapel in the elementary school’s west parking lot, where a Feb. 21 evening mass was held.
“The Holy Spirit was in on this,” said the Rev. Bob McCabe, pastor of the Church of the Divine Child. “It’s been a source of joy and pride, and it is always a wonderful thing when people can work together to do something positive, and it is something that really ultimately gives glory to God.”
The idea originated with theology teacher John Brahier, who shared a photo of a snow chapel at St. Albert the Great Catholic Church, at Michigan Technological University in Houghton, on Feb. 15 with the Rev. David Pellican, associate pastor.
“We knew that there was a snow storm coming, so we went out to Home Depot and got the wood necessary to make these forms for the huge bricks made of snow,” McCabe said.
Snow is poured into plywood forms braced by 2x4s, which people stomp on to pack down the snow. After waiting 20 minutes for the snow wall to solidify, the forms are removed.
The work began on Feb. 18, after Ash Wednesday, and continued through Saturday, with a few finishing touches on Sunday before the evening mass.
McCabe said about 200 people helped, including middle and high school students, teachers, parents and other parishioners, with special help from the high school art department.
“It was really a wonderful time of a really good spirit of camaraderie, working together, and it was amazing, from day to day, to see the progress that was being made,” he said.
By Feb. 25, the sun and temperatures in the 40s were taking its toll on the snow chapel, and a Feb. 26 demolition was scheduled for safety purposes.
“If it had stayed colder out, we would have had another mass this Sunday,” he said. “One of the walls is looking like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, so we told the kids today at recess, don’t go near the (snow) hill or chapel, so safety first.”
During the mass held in the snow chapel, which about 300 people attended, candles were placed in nooks carved into the snow walls. Other spaces were created in the snow walls for a crucifix, as well as outdoor statues of Mary and Joseph.
The altar was made out of snow, with candle holders made of ice, while the faux stained-glass windows were set pieces from a past school production of “Beauty and the Beast.”
“It was a labor of love, and it was amazing what we accomplished in such a short period of time,” McCabe said.
He said he hopes a snow chapel becomes an annual endeavor.
“It was really a joy, and I think people were excited to see the progress that was being made, dramatically, each day,” McCabe said. “We have gotten nothing but positive feedback from not only our parishioners, but the whole neighborhood.”