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Mike Heck spearheaded an effort to build a chapel at St. Patrick Center. He led the Rosary and distributed the Eucharist during a communion service at St. Patrick Center Downtown on Nov. 7.
Mike Heck spearheaded an effort to build a chapel at St. Patrick Center. He led the Rosary and distributed the Eucharist during a communion service at St. Patrick Center Downtown on Nov. 7.
Photo Credit: Lisa Johnston

‘Holy space’ brings added dimension to St. Patrick Center

Chapel enhances spiritual element for St. Patrick Center clients, staff

Brianna Martin could say a few prayers or even the Rosary at her desk, she said, but it’s a bit too busy for that. That’s why having a chapel in the St. Patrick Center building is ideal.

“It’s a dedicated space, away from the ringing of the phone,” said Martin, a leasing compliance specialist/crisis case manager with the center’s Project Protect. She is a parishioner at St. Boniface in Edwardsville, Ill.

Brianna Martin prayed the Rosary before a communion service at St. Patrick Center.
Photo Credits: Lisa Johnston
A colleague, David Barton, a team leader with assertive community treatment, joined Martin and several others for a Rosary recitation and Communion service in the chapel mid-morning on Nov. 7. Barton, a parishioner at St. John Bosco in Creve Coeur, called the chapel “a holy space” within St. Patrick Center, a Catholic Charities federated agency that provides opportunities for self-sufficiency and dignity to people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, helping them with housing, mental and physical health, employment and financial stability.

Auxiliary Bishop Mark S. Rivituso blessed the new chapel earlier this year.

Mike Heck, a volunteer and former president of the St. Patrick Center Board of Directors, spearheaded the effort to build the chapel. The chapel is on the first floor, just off the client welcome center. Clients and staff find respite in the chapel funded by donors who raised $50,000 in private donations. The Gatesworth, Mike Doyle of the board of directors and Chris Leonard of the board of trustees were the lead volunteers, with Leonard serving as project manager.

Heck, who led the Rosary recitation Nov. 7, said “I’ve always had a spot in my heart for St. Patrick Center, its mission and the help they provide people.”

The idea of a chapel came during a conversation with former St. Patrick Center CEO Tom Etling on how the agency meets the physical, emotional and psychological needs, yet more needed to be done for spiritual needs. The conversation continued with Laurie Phillips when she took over leadership of the center. “If we don’t help them (clients) with the most important thing in their lives, which is their spiritual health, then we’re leaving a giant void,” said Heck, who was accompanied by his wife, Phyllis. They’re parishioners at Mary Mother of the Church Parish in south St. Louis County.

The chapel’s crucifix, altar and doors came from the archdiocese’s Reclamation Center, with a staff member, Jack Hyden of St. Patrick Center, adding refinishing touches. Heck and others, including parishioners of Incarnate Word in Chesterfield, stocked a shelf with prayer cards, rosaries, books and other religious materials that clients snap up. The chapel includes small Stations of the Cross and statues of Mary and the Sacred Heart. An oversized Bible came from Pauline Books & Media, donated by an individual who asked that it be given away where needed.

Heck said he is hoping it provides “a place of peace and comfort for those who are not in a position to have much of that in their lives.”

He began volunteering with St. Patrick Center 30 years ago when he met the founder, Edith Cunnane. He first served as president of the Young Friends board, followed by the Board of Directors. He went on to establish the Board of Trustees, a volunteer board focused on furthering outreach and connections for St. Patrick Center.

Heck said another aspect of the chapel that he enjoys is that it’s across from two phrases, his favorites, that are placed on the hallway wall. One states, “See the face of God in each other,” and the other states, “Be the face of God to each other.”

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