“For us, it is not a hospital, but a ministry and the chapel is an extension of the ministry that takes place on the hospital floors,” said Wayne Carmello-Harper, senior vice-president of mission integration for St. Vincent’s Health System.
Carmello-Harper said the new St. Vincent’s St. Clair Hospital in Pell City features a fully functional chapel.
“The tabernacle and Eucharist is there, and a red light burns as a symbol that Jesus is present in the chapel,” he said.
Carmello-Harper said Jesus was called to heal, to preach and to teach.
“Healing is an extension of that ministry,” he said. “We reach out to clergy of all faiths to be welcome at St. Vincent’s St. Clair.”
Carmello-Harper said the hospital has a part-time chaplain, Bro. Randy Howell, who is there during the day.
“We have on-call chaplains around the clock, so there is always someone on-call,” he said.
The new chapel has many beautiful works of art practitioners of any faith can appreciate and enjoy.
The 14 Stations of the Cross are artwork made in Belgium commemorating Jesus’ condemnation by Pilate through being put in the tomb representing the way of the cross.
Three stained glass windows represent the Trinity.
“Terry Barnes of Pell City created the stained glass windows,” Carmello-Harper said. “They are designed so they are not clear images but are meant to draw you into them. You have to search for meaning—it’s not always clear.”
Carmello-Harper said in one window, a gold hand represents God the Father reaching down to creation.
“It’s the presence of God and the transcendence of God,” he said.
Carmello-Harper said one window has the Greek symbol for Christ, representing Jesus. The third window features a dove representing the Holy Spirit.
“The Holy Water font is a reminder of our baptism,” he said. “The water is blessed.”
Carmello-Harper said the cross for the chapel’s crucifix was carved by Laco Woodworks in Alabaster and the corpus on the cross was donated by the Daughters of Charity.
“The granite stone directly underneath the alter—embedded in the stone are relics of St. Vincent de Paul, the founder of the Daughters of Charity in France in 1633 and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, who established the Daughters of Charity in 1809 in Emmitsburg, Maryland,” he said.
The Sisters’ Vigil sculpture is just outside the chapel and can be seen from within the chapel. The Sisters’ Vigil sculpture, which is displayed at each of the St. Vincent Health System facilities, represents the Daughters of Charity who founded St. Vincent’s Hospital in Birmingham in 1898, Sisters Benedicta Roach, Patricia Malloy, Antonia Hanrahan and Placida Scott.
Carmello-Harper said the sisters who continue to serve the community are Sisters Dinah White, Anne Marie Schreiner, Brenda Monahan, Ellen Clare Measner and Ellen Reilly. Reilly serves at the new St. Vincent’s St. Clair Hospital.
“The chapel is furnished for Catholic liturgy, but it is an environment that is hopefully welcoming to people of all faiths,” he said. “There is a prayer garden just outside the chapel. Hopefully you will find it a place of quiet and reflection.”
Contact Elsie Hodnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.