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News and Featured Stories from St. Vincent's Medical Center
Published: 03/04/2011

New "Virginia O'Brien Fortin Chapel Blessed At St. Vincents

chapel 2The Most Reverend William E. Lori, S.T.D., Bishop of Bridgeport, blessed the new "Virginia O'Brien Fortin Chapel" at St. Vincent's Medical Center on February 24 during a mass celebrated before 40 invited guests including benefactress Virginia O'Brien Fortin of Easton.

The realignment of the Medical Center's main level, part of its $150 million dollar renovation and expansion, required the move of the old chapel. It also provided the opportunity for the creation of this new modern facility, a spiritual hub, serving the needs of patients, visitors and employees of diverse faith traditions, but also reflecting the strong Catholic identity and mission that characterizes St. Vincent's.

"This is a day of great rejoicing- amid the knowledge, skill and high technology of this bustling state-of-the-art Medical Center, the chapel will be a quiet place of prayer," said Bishop Lori as he thanked the benefactors before a gathering of their families, St. Vincent's President/CEO Susan L. Davis, RN, EdD, board members including Chairman Ruben Rodriguez, administrators, physicians and staff involved with the building of the chapel.

"Here family members will come to seek God's grace for loved ones, and healthcare professionals will come to seek guidance in challenging work and a spirit of compassion. Its presence bears witness to the human dignity of patients and their families and signals something at the heart of the Medical Center and its mission.

Quoting St. Vincent de Paul, patron of the Medical Center, Saint Elizabeth Seton, founder of the Sisters of Charity, and Pope John Paul II, Bishop Lori emphasized that ethics must prevail over technology and the primacy of spirit over matter. Reflecting on the origin of St. Vincent's, he mused that the founding Daughters of Charity would be delighted with the new chapel as it signifies the "determination to continue healing service with love and compassion, that same spirit that characterized St. Vincent de Paul and Elizabeth Seton in their work with the sick and poor."

Reverend Joseph Marcello, priest secretary to the Bishop, and St. Vincent's Director of Pastoral Care Deacon Paul Jennings assisted Bishop Lori in the Roman Catholic blessing ceremony. Sister Anne Marie Graham, DOC, a member of the Daughters of Charity order that founded St. Vincent's and who still serve the Medical Center, and President/CEO Susan L. Davis, RN, EdD, performed readings from Nehemiah 8 and Ephesians 2.

Virginia and husband Denis Fortin presented the gifts both as part of the mass ritual and also symbolic of the generosity displayed by members of the community in the creation of the new chapel. Music provided by cantor Matthew Surapine and keyboardist Peter DeMarco added to the reverence of the occasion.

Many patients and visitors also watched the service as it was broadcast in all patient rooms and on screens located in the main lobby.

At a luncheon following the mass, Susan Davis paid tribute to the Daughters of Charity for their "support, vision and dedication to St. Vincent's for more than 100 years." Calling Virginia Fortin the first person to step up and say she wanted to help, Davis described her as wearing many hats in the Medical Center, serving on the Foundation Board, as a Eucharistic minister and a volunteer greeter at the front desk."Ginny touched every nook and cranny of the chapel, and her gift and gift of spirit exceeded everyone's expectation."

Benefactors recognized:

  • Chapel: Virginia Fortin of Easton and husband Denis
  • Chapel Vestibule: Lawrence and Susan Palaia Family of Easton in honor of John P. and Lilian G. Frouge
  • Counseling/Bereavement Room: Eileen and Lou Fernous, JR., of Fairfield
  • Altar: Mary and Kevin Conlisk of Fairfield in memory of his brother Fr. John M. Conlisk
  • Tabernacle: Anna Pigiel of Bridgeport


Chapel Highlights: The new chapel, which will accommodate seating for 45 worshippers, achieves achapel 5 spiritually uplifting and welcoming atmosphere due to the warm color palette and style of its statuary, stained glass and walls, and to its domed or barrel-vaulted ceiling, a feature typically found in larger churches, which creates a more open effect.

Leading visitors to the chapel, which is located on a corridor off the main lobby, is a wall of Venetian plaster created by artist Louise Hunnicutt, featuring a ruby-colored glass Tabernacle window and 14 stations of the cross in stained glass designed by New York artist Thomas Glisson and Michele Mackey.

chapel 1The stained glass panels feature the scenes of Christ's passion in the colors of yellow and blue, hand-painted by Glisson. An identical front and back glass panel for each station allows them to be viewed both from the outer corridor and the chapel interior. The altar and podium are made of Crema marble imported from Spain.

A five-foot statue of the risen Christ with arms outstretched, and wearing robes of linen-beige and burgundy with a gold-leaf lining on the cloak, adorns the front wall of the chapel behind the altar. Extending from the statue, which was hand-carved in linden wood (also known as bass wood) by Thomas Glisson and his brother Steve Glisson, are gold rays of light on a background of Venetian plaster.

The Blessed Virgin Mary, the mother of Christ, is depicted in a 4-foot statue, also designed by Glisson, holding the infant Jesus, all in colors of linen-beige and blue with gold-leafchapel 6 accents. A wall of African mahogany serves as the backdrop for the Blessed Virgin statue.

On the back wall are three floor- to- ceiling glass panels , etched with the Memorare, a traditional prayer to Mary, and inspirational quotes from St. Vincent de Paul and St. Louise de Marillac, co-founders of the Daughters of Charity, the order that founded St. Vincent's Medical Center in 1903. Etched into the center panel is a quote from Elizabeth Ann Seton, founder of the Daughters of Charity in America, also known as the Sisters of Charity, founder of the parochial school system in the US , and also the first American saint. Two glass doors feature an etched design of three interlocking crosses

The chapel welcomes you and your family.

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