Students plan protest over plans to turn chapel into offices

CHICAGO -- There is a campus controversy at Chicago’s oldest Catholic University.

Thousands of students at Saint Xavier University are upset over the schools plan to move the ministry, and a popular nun, out of the chapel  to make way for new offices for the president.

University administrators concede they could have communicated their intentions better, but say this is all being done to benefit the entire campus school community.

But students say they see the spirit being ushered out of a sacred space.

Nearly 5,000 students have signed a petition stating their displeasure with the university’s plan to move the campus ministry out of the chapel to make room for new offices for the university president.

Students gathered in prayer – and in protest -- ahead of a meeting with the university administration over the future of the chapel and the ministry offices.

University Vice President for Student Affairs Anthony Campbell says the ministry is simply being moved to a location where it will have higher visibility and be able to serve more students.

“We’re not taking campus ministry away. Campus ministry will be enhanced by having more students and be more involved in the campus,” he said.

Nearly 100 people packed into the board room to make their voices heard.  Amon them was Sister Carol Mucha, a popular figure at the university who leads prayer groups, faith discussions and campus counseling. She is also being removed from the chapel

For some students the issue is more about respect not only for them, but also for the chapel that serves at the spiritual center of this campus.

The university is moving forward with its plan, but promised more dialogue with the students.