Hundreds gathered for mass at the St. Francis Xavier Catholic Chapel for the 75th anniversary of its dedication on Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune Jan. 28.
The building of the chapel was finished in November 1942, but was dedicated Jan. 27, 1943.
“It was a special celebration,” said Archbishop Timothy Broglio, Archdiocese of the Military Services. “This chapel was dedicated 75 years ago to father Aloysius Schmitt. He was aboard a ship in Pearl Harbor the day of the attack and he pushed Sailors out of his ship. He drowned giving his life for others.”
To this day, the ministry continues to dedicate their lives to the community and give back to the Marines and Sailors of Camp Lejeune.
“This chapel is the heart of the catholic community here,” said John Lyle, previous Catholic priest for the St. Francis Xavier Chapel. “We are asking people to go into combat. For that, you want to be physically, mentally and spiritually prepared. When people are deployed and away, their families come here and they know that their families are being taken care of. This is the spiritual home for the Catholic Marines here at Camp Lejeune.”
Since opening, the chapel has provided support for hundreds of thousands of Marines, Sailors and their families.
“In 75 years, a lot of people come through a church and benefit from the community and the sacraments,” said Broglio.
After the mass there was a celebratory dinner where distinguished guests and members of the community were recognized at Marston Pavilion on MCB Camp Lejeune.
“This is a very amazing ministry giving spiritual support to the Marines and Sailors,” said Lt. Cmdr. Cerino Bargola, chaplain, Camp Lejeune. “This chapel is a very vital piece of the mission here in Camp Lejeune.”
During dinner, Thomas Cassidy was recognized with applause for being a member of the chapel for over 60 years.
“It indicates his devotion and his fidelity,” said Broglio. “It also indicates the fact that the community has been here for him as well for those 60 years.”
The members of the chapel have no desire to stop providing services for the Catholic members of the community anytime soon.
“It has been here for 75 years and will be here as long as the base is here,” said Lyle. “It will continue to grow and flourish providing ministry and services.”