Monastery completion set for spring

Maria Brachelli

The 56 priests displaced from the University monastery last January will have to wait another five or six months before returning to the building. Renovations on the monastery, originally projected for completion by the end of this year, will not finish until late spring.

The 100-year-old building is in dire need of reconstruction to meet contemporary safety requirements. The inside of the building was gutted earlier this winter to allow for new measures, including electrical and plumbing improvements.

The priests currently reside at various places on campus or in the area, such as St. Augustine Friary on Ashwood Road, health care facilities and local church rectories.

New design plans for the monastery include transforming the second floor into a health care center for the ill and infirm retired Augustinians. It will host a full nursing staff to care for the elderly residents.

Additionally, there will be 60 individual rooms created in the new outlay of the building; each bedroom will have its own bathroom and some will have their own sitting rooms.

“It’s an exciting project,” Rev. Bill Donnelly, O.S.A, said. “The design is really going to enhance that synonymous idea of community and family; while at the same time, the only new aspect of the building from the outside will be the chapel.”

Delays in the construction arose from a re-evaluation of the principles of the design and the funds available for project. In addition, a development permit for the chapel took longer than anticipated to procure.

It was also discovered that certain elements of the kitchen need to be redone, including the floor, which will be completely deteriorated in eight to 10 years.

“Fr. Don Reilly [Provincial] has shown great leadership. He didn’t conceive the project, but he has been the prime mover,” Robert Morro, executive director of Facilities Management, who has worked extensively as an adviser on the monastery construction project, said. “I think because of this the building will service the order for 50 or more years.”

By the time of the construction’s completion, the only visible change to the exterior will be a new chapel with stained glass windows facing out toward Mendel Field.

Kitchen Associates of Collingswood, N.J., is the contracted architect. It is working closely with Trammal Crow, the contact and representatives for the Province of Augustinians’ renovation project.

“The project is scheduled for late spring completion. We have added some scope that wasn’t initially part of the project, but we are right on track to meet that date,” Matt Weko of Trammel Crow said. “The addition of the chapel and main entrance facing Mendel Field may seem like a minor building change, but hopefully it will be a larger psychological and philosophical change for the university as much as the Augustinians. It is to become an introspective aspect of the monastery so that it becomes more welcoming.”