“So you could say it’s always been a sanctuary,” said Paul Hegland, longtime assistant to Carthage presidents, with a wink in my direction as he gave me my first tour of the Carthage campus in May 2017.
Walter Fritsch Meditation Chapel, a small chapel across from Lentz Hall on the north end of campus.We were visiting the
Paul had just explained that Carthage received former parkland as a gift from the town of Kenosha in the 1960s. The park included two public restrooms. The College transformed both buildings into chapels — one for Roman Catholic worship and the other for quiet prayer and reflection at any time of day.
I thought of the chapel again in September as this academic year began with an awards dinner for faculty and staff. Those being honored for years of service were asked to describe their favorite place on campus. John and I were both struck by how often the Fritsch Meditation Chapel was mentioned. It was second only to the shore of the lake in popularity that night. It was clear that the chapel is still serving as sanctuary to many.
Last week I had the great pleasure of having lunch with five ladies who know an incredible amount of Carthage history, representing all of the following categories: alumnae, employees, children of employees, children of alumni, parents of alumni, spouses of alumni, spouses of board members, and one former presidential spouse.
One of the party was Judy Fritsch, who, with her Carthage-sweetheart husband Jack Fritsch, has now renovated the meditation chapel twice — first in 1966 in response to a student request for “a quiet place for prayer and reflection,” and again, more thoroughly, in 1998 when it was rededicated in memory of Jack’s father, Walter Fritsch.
For them, the chapel brings back memories of Jack’s father; of their own Carthage love story begun on the Carthage, Illinois, campus; of their early married years when Jack served his first term on our Board of Trustees; and of recent years since Jack’s return to the board and his current emeritus status.
Their generosity has made possible a layering of memory for many more generations of Carthage students, staff, and faculty. I look forward to my next visit to the sanctuary of Fritsch Meditation Chapel. My own experience will be enriched by the sense of history I have gained in talking to Judy and Jack.
See for yourself
Walter Fritsch Meditation Chapel
Carthage College Campus
2001 Alford Park Drive
Campus Worship Spots