Peter Faber, SJ, Chapel Offers Peace Amidst Busyness
The new chapel located on the Mike and Josie Harper Center’s main floor is a quiet space to reflect and find God in all things.
Cultivating a sustaining faith, much like academic achievement, athletic prowess or artistic aptitude, requires time and dedication. Faith deepens when we carve time out of our daily round to sit in God’s presence, to be still, to converse with and then listen to our Lord’s response. If we want to have a friendship with God, we need to spend time with God.
Thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor, the Creighton community has a new place on campus for personal prayer and reflection that complements St. John’s Church, says the Rev. Tom Merkel, SJ, Heider College of Business chaplain. The Peter Faber, SJ, Chapel, located on the main floor of the Mike and Josie Harper Center, is a sanctuary that enhances the spiritual well-being of students, faculty, staff, alumni and visitors and facilitates a deeper relationship with God.
Peter Faber, along with St. Francis Xavier, SJ, was a close companion to St. Ignatius of Loyola, SJ. The three studied at the University of Paris together and were integral to the foundation of the Society of Jesus. A gifted spiritual director, Faber spread the faith throughout Europe, traveling on foot and guiding individuals of all denominations in the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. During his travels, he sought the intercession of the Madonna della Strada, “Our Lady of the Way,” for protection.
The Peter Faber, SJ, Chapel invites visitors to step out of busyness and into quietude. It has a prayer and petition wall with dichroic glass that simulates the light of votive candles. Visitors can place prayers, intentions and petitions in the slots of the wall. Fr. Merkel says he is “moved by our community’s response to the prayer wall to express their needs and desires to God.”
The chapel also has a “cave” that represents the cave in Manresa, Spain, where Ignatius formed the Spiritual Exercises. The chapel’s donor and his son came up with the idea of including the cave in the chapel’s design; his son, a recent Creighton graduate who teaches high school in Omaha, felt it would appeal to students. Fr. Merkel agrees, adding that “the cave makes the chapel distinctive.” A photograph of the actual cave in Manresa that hangs within its chapel replica was taken by the donor on a 2018 Ignatian pilgrimage to Spain and Rome with Creighton’s president, the Rev. Daniel S. Hendrickson, SJ, PhD, and University trustees.
Additionally, within the chapel is an altar consecrated by Archbishop George Lucas in March 2021 and icons of Faber and the Madonna della Strada. The “Our Lady of the Way” icon especially reminds us to let prayer lead us as we go about daily living on campus and in the greater world community, just as it led Faber on his European travels nearly 500 years ago.
Though predominantly created for personal prayer and reflection, the chapel is open to small group spiritual gatherings across campus. Campus Ministry has made use of the space for Encounter Retreats and Protestant services on Sunday evenings. Ignatian marriage preparation retreats, Christian Spirituality Program Masses, Magis Teacher Corps seminars and Masses and fraternity Bible study meetings all have found a home in the chapel, as have memorial Masses for deceased members of the Creighton community.
Nestled between the iJay and the Heider Securities Investment and Analysis Center and situated across from a campus Starbucks and Admissions and Enrollment Management offices, the chapel’s location is intentional. It symbolizes the intersection of spiritual living – faith, reflection and prayer – with temporal living – commerce, business and food and drink.
“That we now have a place on our campus that is symbolic of the cave where Ignatius grew in his relationship with God is truly special,” says Anthony Hendrickson, PhD, dean of the Heider College of Business. “And it’s a dream of Charlie Heider come true.”
This fall, the Ratio Studiorum Program (RSP) module on Jesuit and Ignatian charisms given to Heider freshmen took place in the chapel. It was a chance to introduce students to the chapel, to explain that it was built for them and open to them any time, says Fr. Merkel.
It is appropriate that the chapel is dedicated to Faber, who is considered one of the patron saints of business, especially given the alignment between his view of business and the Heider College mission of forming leaders who use their business education to promote justice and improve the world.
During his European travels, Faber was horrified by the widespread poverty he discovered in Mainz, Germany. He believed that the Jesuits’ spiritual flair could be matched with a mastery of business.
For Faber, business was a positive force.
First, he equated business, when done well, with human dignity, for it enables individuals to support themselves and their families. According to Faber, business produces positive long-term societal shifts that work in tandem with charity, which addresses short-term immediate needs.
Second, being a good (aka profitable) business professional requires God-given talents: leadership (think managers who inspire their employees), imagination (picture those who see an unmet need and find a solution), courage (just consider the start-up innovator).
But Faber cautioned that success in business for individual gain alone is not the ultimate goal. Good business should benefit society as well as the individual. Practiced this way, it is vocational, a way to attain life united with Christ after our earthly life ends.
People are welcome to visit the chapel whenever the Harper Center is open. To learn more about the St. Peter Faber, SJ, Chapel, visit https://www.creighton.edu/business/about/mission/chapel. The chapel may be reserved for group spiritual events by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are unable to visit campus, you may click here to submit your prayer requests.