The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

University consecrates plaque at ceremony

Members+of+the+St.+John%E2%80%99s+building+committee+%28from+left+to+right%29%3A+Martin+DeSapio+%28architect%29%2C+Dr.+Julia+Upton%2C+Salvatore+P.+Ciampo%2C+and+John+Brennan%2C+Jr.+%0APhoto%3A+Torch+Photo+Editor+Cheyanne+Gonzales
Members of the St. John’s building committee (from left to right): Martin DeSapio (architect), Dr. Julia Upton, Salvatore P. Ciampo, and John Brennan, Jr. Photo: Torch Photo Editor Cheyanne Gonzales

The 10th anniversary of the dedication to St. Thomas More Church was held on Friday, Nov. 21. Members of the University community gathered for a solemn celebration to reflect on the importance of the church on campus.

According to Fr. Patrick Griffin, C.M. and campus minister Andrea Pinnavaia, a plaque was unveiled at the ceremony, which highlighted the contributions of John and Anita Brennan. The Brennans donated $10 million total for the church building in honor of their son Thomas More Brennan, who died in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The plaque honored those who made construction of the church possible, including the Brennan family and architect Martin DeSapio.

The plaque was blessed by Fr. Bernard Tracey, C.M.

John Brennan, Thomas’s father, is a St. John’s graduate and holds his bachelor and law degrees from the University. According to a New York Times article, Brennan named his son after St. Thomas More (1478-1535), a martyr and the patron Saint of lawyers.

The church’s name, like Brennan’s, is a dedication to St. Thomas More. According to a guidebook from the church, St. Thomas More has always been admired within the St. John’s School of Law for his integrity and scholarship.

Dr. Julia Upton, R.S.M. and Fr. Griffin discussed the ceremony of the blessing of the church foundation back in 2003, which was different from the dedication ceremony. They explained that members of the University community carried stones and placed them in the spot where the foundation would be built.

Many of the stones sit underneath the altar.

Both Upton and Fr. Griffin mentioned that the stones are a permanent symbol of the members of the church and its community and of utmost importance because the entire community was invited to help plan the church.

Upton and Griffin explained that the church was designed based on input received from the University community. For example, the stained-glass windows on the either side of the chapel illustrate Bible stories that were chosen by the community. The windows facing St. Albert Hall contain 5 different New Testament stories suggested by the community.

“When you look at those windows, you begin to get a sense of the people and what’s important for them,” Griffin said.

One of the suggestions for a window was the story of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron Saint of ecology and biology. Upton said that a biology professor made this suggestion based on the importance of the saint to these fields of study here at the University.

“It was really people that helped [with] those five windows, because there are so many from the New Testament you can choose from,” Upton said.

Before the church moved to its current location on Great Lawn, it was located in Lourdes Hall, which currently houses the Office of Academic Service Learning. Upton and Fr. Griffin said that on the day of the blessing of the foundation, students and faculty carried flags from Lourdes Hall to the new site. The flags were placed around the perimeter in the shape of the foundation, and ground was broken exactly where the altar sits today, according to Upton.

Construction began after graduation that school year.

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Talia Tirella, Co-Editor-in-Chief
Co-Editor-in-Chief: Talia is a senior Journalism major/Government & Politics minor who intends to make the Torch an open organization, to expand our staff writing team and readership, and to grow the Torch as a professional organization.   [email protected]

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