A New Home For St. Vincent's Chapel

Sunday, January 08, 2012

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Chapel at St. Vincent's Hospital (Matt Rainey)

The historic chapel from the bankrupt St. Vincent's Hospital is set to get a new home across the New York Harbor.

Saint Peter's Healthcare System has acquired and stored major components of the Elizabeth Ann Seton Chapel, and is now planning for fundraising and reconstruction at its university hospital in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

For Sister Miriam Kevin Phillips there’s no greater relief. The Greenwich Village native worked at Saint Vincent's for 46 years before it closed in 2010.

“Everything was a heartache for all of us, but the first thing that people said was, ‘What is going to happen to that beautiful chapel?’ It was just so much a part of everyone's life at St. Vincent's,” Phillips said.

The neo-Baroque chapel, opened in 1889, served as a refuge for survivors of major catastrophes, including the sinking of the Titanic, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, the AIDS epidemic and the September 11 attacks.

“To this day, there is a very good feeling on the part of the gay and lesbian community that [through the AIDS epidemic of the '80s] they were accepted, loved, cared for,” Phillips said. “It became part of who we were and what we did at a time of great suffering.”

That’s the history that St. Peter's is trying to preserve, said President and CEO Ronald Rak. He visited St. Vincent’s after it closed in 2010 to learn about various medical programs that might be orphaned. And when Rak stepped inside the chapel, he knew he had to help save its legacy.

“As soon as we entered the chapel we realized that we were standing in a place of historical significance and religious importance,” Rak said. “And we vowed to ourselves that we were not going to permit that chapel to be destroyed, and secondly, to ensure that if we can financially afford to do so, to try to reconstruct the chapel as it was.”

Rak said St. Peter’s was not the highest bidder but it won because of its commitment to recreate the chapel as close to the original as possible. He said the scope and the schedule of the reconstruction will depend on fundraising, but the chapel is likely to replace an existing conference center near the main lobby of St. Peter's hospital.

Matt Rainey
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Chapel at St. Vincent's Hospital
Matt Rainey
The dismantling of the chapel's contents.
Matt Rainey
The dismantling of the chapel's contents.
Matt Rainey
The dismantling of the chapel's contents.
Matt Rainey
A view of the chapel from above.


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Comments [10]

Chris Malloy from FL

The chapel was a place of comfort and solace during the years I spent at SVH. I do know St Peter's and I think it is a good Catholic hospital and system. Thanks so much to them for preserving this bit of SVH history.

Apr. 11 2013 08:55 PM
Marilyn Bevilacqua- Potenza

Every time, St. Vincent's is mentioned, it hurts a little more. The community is being ignored. Mayor Bloomberg & Council member Christine Quinn should be ashamed of their part of the loss of such an outstanding hospital. Quinn received campaign money from brokers & builders of the property--the mayor is a little too cozy with the developers of the St. Vincent property--bringing in some tax breaks to developers--his close friends--when NYU was closed due to recent floods--teh loss in the area was even worse--shame on politicans!!!

Mar. 25 2013 04:23 PM
Matthew Hassan from Warrenton, VA

This is great news!!! In 2009 my wife was diagnosed with cancer. We came from Virginia when we were told not much could be done and that the cancer was too advanced. Through the great work of the doctors, the nurses, support staff, and the chaplains at St. Vincents and many hours of prayer in this stunningly beautiful Chapel and the Holy Mass, we are still here and doing well. It now looks as if the chapel has had it own little miracle and will continue to provide a place of grace, holy silence, and solitude with our Lord!

We cannot wait to visit it at it new location soon!

God Bless!

Aug. 20 2012 11:47 PM
David Kenny

It's wonderful to know that this small piece of St. Vincent's legacy will continue to provide solice to future generations of patients and staff in a Catholic medical facility.

Feb. 29 2012 10:07 PM
Dorothy (Knee) Caputo

Such a special place in my years at St Vincent's. I am so glad that it is being preserved. Spent my hours there and always found solice and peace there in its beauty.
Candy stiper 1962-64
Student tyears 1964-1967
Class of 1967

Jan. 26 2012 11:34 PM
Mary Jane Clarke from Brooklyn, NY

I often thought about the Chapel and wondered what would happen to it. This is good news. It certainly was a special spot in SVH.

Jan. 12 2012 08:41 PM
Eileen Dunn from NYC

Why aren't the Rudins paying for the Chapel to be restored. For some reason they were able to buy the hospital property for $260m. That property was worth so much more. So given the fraud and corruption that closed the hospital, Rudin do the right thing and pay for the restoration.

Jan. 09 2012 07:46 PM
Diane from Brooklyn, NY

I am relieved that this is happening. I loved that chapel so much and would pray there regularly. It was a source of solace for patient's relatives and employees.

Jan. 09 2012 07:42 PM
April from New York,NY

I'm so relieved that the chapel is preserved. The chapel has been a place of solace for myself during tough times and a place where I would pray for the patients I took care of. I'm glad that others too can benefit from its beautiful stain glass and the solace it provides.

Jan. 09 2012 07:29 PM
Marilyn Hank,RN

I am so happy to read this. I work for 37 years at SVH and spent many, many moments in this Chapel. Thank You St. Peter's for saving this Chapel that means so very much to me and countless others!!!!

Jan. 09 2012 07:17 PM

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