Sunday, March 13, 2011

A Day at Loyola University

Clearly a great deal of time has passed since I have returned from my sabbatical in Chicago. Still, due to a number of projects I have not yet completed my blogging about my experience. Hopefully I will complete this happy task before my next adventure! Today I would like to reminisce about trekking across the campus of Loyola University on a cool Saturday. I had only planned on video recording the Chapel, however to my delight I arrived for a campus visit day. I went in every building that was open!

My first apartment as an adult was only blocks away from Loyola University. Still, I had never wandering onto the campus. I watched Bob Newhart every weekend and he as a huge Loyola fan. I think part of the problem is that from Sheridan Road or Devon Avenue the school looks dull. Now to be sure the landscape has changed dramatically since I lived there. Still, you have to enter the campus, go beyond the main streets to find this enclave that is a gem next to Lake Michigan!

Loyola University: Quad

The Quad at this time whispers of the beauty of the past and of what is to come. At this time however, the Quad is a busy place full of new construction. I will have to visit the campus in another two years to see the new vistas.
As I said, I originally arrived on campus to video the chapel. This is where I along with member of the Kaio community attended Taize services. I loved the simple structure with the rich gold Stations of the Cross and the powerful icons. I liked the straight lines, the art deco and Spanish influence and I loved how it all opened up to the lake.

Madonna del Strada Chapel Loyola University

The chapel dominated the south east corner of the Quad. “Chapel” sounds like a simple, modest place of worship, that is deceiving! The chapel was used by students and faculty but also by neighborhood Catholics and in fact people throughout the city. I would love to attend Midnight Mass at the Madonna del Strada Chapel.

Madonna del Strada Chapel Loyola University : altar

The chapel is a very “clean” space with minimal distractions. The lines all directed the congregants eyes forward to the windows and the altar. The altar is likewise simple in design. This made for a particularly beautiful focal point for the Taize services.

Madonna del Strada Chapel Loyola University Shrine

The Shrines were stunning and they were used. This was a very Catholic place and yet it was a campus that was inclusive and welcoming. I visited the offices for Jewish, Hindu and Muslim students. This was a place that celebrated diversity.

Outside the Madonna del Strada Chapel: Lake Michigan

The first time I walked through the large heavy doors I was stunned. You open the doors and before you is Lake Michigan. It is a lake with a personality. Some days the sky and the lake are a beautiful blue, sometimes the lake is still, and sometimes it is violent. On this day the lake reflected the cool autumn day and spoke of the promise of a winter that was on its way. On my last visit to the campus the lake was frozen with sheets of ice crashing into one another and slowly bobbing up and down. The entrance and the small plaza offers an incredible view of my city from a unique perspective.

Loyola University flowers and residential building

I walked around the campus. While it was cool the remains of summer were still evident. There were stubborn flowers that refused to fade or blow away. There were skaters and joggers who ignored the dropping temperature. All around there were beautiful buildings full of interesting labs, maps, books and views.

Mundelein Center Loyola University

The Mundelein Center was one of those entrances from Devon Avenue that gave no hint to what awaited the explorer on the other side of the building. While the statue columns were impressive no one would confuse the entrance or the street for anything special and yet walk through the doors and you leave an unremarkable cityscape and enter a world of knowledge and a n exciting campus life. Now those are magic doors!

St. Ignatius at Library: Loyola University

Next to the chapel is the library. Now, to be honest the library consists of multiple buildings are that connected. They are of different architectural styles but they work together. One view is of the Quad and the opposite, the lake. If you get tired from reading in a tranquil setting just walk down the hall to the coffee shop. This is a wonderful library and when I was there is was active. Students were everywhere studying.

I spent time at DePaul University which is great and in a great part of the city. I spent time at Northwestern University which just goes on and one forever. However, Loyola, with its hidden enclave was unique. It was a great way to spend a Saturday.

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