A Journey Of Hope

a journey of hope, redemption, and transformation

The chapel is designed to invite visitors on a journey of hope, redemption, and personal transformation. Guests will enter from the left and move to the right through the chapel, as shown in the diagram below. They will first encounter old, rusted oil barrels containing soil, seeds, and small plants. As they approach the central chapel area, they will see the oil barrels coalescing and becoming integrated with the living plants to form a unified structure. Stepping through a cross-shaped entranceway, they will enter into the centre of the chapel. This area for prayer and meditation will be bathed in the serene music of waterdrops falling on steel pan drums (discarded oil barrels, repurposed for the creation of beauty) built into the interior sides of the walls. Finally, guests will leave by passing through an area where the discarded oil barrels have been polished and contain larger grown trees. Here, they will be provided with a Laudato Si’ prayer and information card in the language of their choice and will be offered a rosary made from recovered ocean plastic.

The Living Chapel invites visitors on a pilgrimage through the suffering and indifference that characterize our neglect of the earth toward reconciliation, hope, and positive action.

The journey begins with an encounter with rusted discarded oil barrels – the raw refuse of humanity, representing both “the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.” Some of these oil barrels, however, contain soil, and some contain soil with seeds and the beginnings of new life sprouting up — the first signs of harmony between the rejected industrial containers and the elements of nature and life.

Proceeding forward, the oil barrels start to participate in the emergence of a larger structure that takes form as they merge with one another and with clusters of plants that appear to have spilled over from within the barrels. The resilient, boisterous energy of life in the form of growing plants pulls the barrels together and gives them a unified structure and purpose, as they form the framework of the initial two plant walls, which merge at the cutout cross.

The approach to the cutout cross passes through shadows, as the walls reach their maximum height and are closest to one another at this point. At the end of this darkened partial tunnel, the cross is visible with light streaming through it. Upon stepping through the cross, one enters into the light-filled centre of the chapel.

This central space of light and life is designed to be a place of prayerful transfiguration through serene harmony with nature: oil barrels are transformed into musical steel pan drums, activated by the same water that nourishes the plants; discarded metal is reborn as windchimes, allowing the motion of air to participate in the musical harmony; large sheets of metal recovered from old, discarded cars form graceful contours reminiscent of the wings of birds, drawing the visitor’s eye upward; and as one looks up, small sapling trees appear to float above, suspended in air as a verdant stairway to heaven.

This interior space will feature an altar and seats made by transforming discarded oil barrels in an additional way: artisans from Haiti – members of the Comité Artisanal Haitien – will use the technique of “fer coupé” (cut iron) to cut intricate patterns out of the oil barrels, transforming them into works of artistic beauty. As a tribute to Saint Francis, the famous quote of his calling will be etched into the metal surfaces inside the chapel as a multilingual mosaic: “Repair my home, which as you can see, is falling into ruin.” This will serve as a call to action to all who enter the Living Chapel.

Finally, guests will leave by passing through an area where the discarded oil barrels have been polished and contain larger grown trees. Here, they will receive a Laudato Si’ prayer and information card in the language of their choice and will be offered a rosary made by Plastic Bank from plastic retrieved from oceans.

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