Penn State Intercom......November 14, 2002

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Spiritual Center expansion progressing

By Annemarie Mountz
Public Information

The roof is on, and the interior rooms are beginning to take shape in the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center on the University Park campus. The project, which is expected to be completed at the end of March, will add roughly 29,400 square feet of worship and program space to the existing Eisenhower Chapel, which currently is roughly 24,000 square feet. The resulting building will be one of the largest religious centers on a public university campus in the nation.

"This is one of the most hopeful things I've seen, and I consider it to be a heroic measure taken by this University," said the Rev. Stephen Honeygosky, director of the Penn State Catholic Community. "I've been to other public universities, and you just don't see this type of religious presence on those campuses. It shows the breadth and vision of this University."

In addition to providing space to the more than 45 campus religious organizations at University Park, the building opens the door to cooperation and understanding, according to Honeygosky.

"This space gives us the ability to have all faiths come together under one roof and get to know each other better," he said. "This is a very good thing."

William "Buzz" Roberts, senior campus minister with the Christian Student Fello wship, sees increased opportunities for his congregation to hold activities once the project is complete.

"With more programming space, there will be more opportunity to expand worship services and to provide more programming," Roberts said. "We'll have more facilities available for Bible studies and individual counseling, as well."

Although everyone is looking forward to the building's completion, the construction has been difficult for University and campus ministry staff. Over the summer, renovations to the existing offices meant temporary eviction between May and September.

"It's been difficult to live through the construction and renovations, but everyone has been wonderful thoroughout the project. People have held meetings in their houses, and done what they've needed to do to get their jobs done -- and nothing has discouraged their enthusiasm for what they do," said Sharon Mortensen, interim director of the Center for Ethics and Religious Affairs. "The biggest difficulty right now is in telling people how to get into the building," she said.

That's because the entrances keep changing as construction progresses. Mortensen suggested that people who need to visit Eisenhower Chapel during the construction pay close attention to signs that point them to the entrances, so that they don't end up walking through the construction zone. Anyone with questions can call the center at (814) 865-6548.

Another difficulty is the temporary lack of programming space.

"Right now, the Harshbarger Room and Memorial Lounge are the only two program spaces available, and they're both under construction," said Mortensen.

The construction has reduced the number of visitors to the building, though there still are services and weddings being held in the chapel.

"We've had a record number of weddings this fall, despite the construction," Mortensen said.

Outside, the project is progressing quickly. The courtyard area is nearly finished, and crews are working to finish the exterior of the building before winter sets in, according to Greg Scott, project manager.

The building, designed by James Oleg Kruhly and Associates of Philadelphia, emphasizes the experience of an inspiring volume of space and the importance of light. The first floor features a two-story core worship area that can accommodate 477 people, and three adjoining chambers with an additional 260 seats that can be opened to the main area or closed off as separate rooms. The complex will include several other program rooms that can be used for prayer, worship or other functions; two kitchens, one of which will be kosher; administrative offices; and ample gathering space outside worship areas.

Annemarie Mountz can be reached at