Assumption Chapel is the spiritual center of St. Mary’s University. It has been a landmark on the campus since the completion of Reinbolt Hall in 1908. It is often described as a space of deep reflection in times of need - no matter their religion. Upon completion, the chapel originally served as a place of worship that met the daily needs of the Marianist brothers and students boarding at St. Mary’s. From the chapel’s early years, many students assisted as altar servers through the duration of their studies.
The Assumption Chapel has had many names. Since its completion in 1908, it has been referred to as the Chapel, the College Chapel, or the University Chapel (this reflected the name change from St. Mary’s College to St. Mary’s University in the early 1900s). Prior to Vatican II, the Chapel was named the Immaculate Conception Chapel to reflect the adoration and namesake of the Marianist brotherhood. After the declaration of the Assumption during Vatican II the Chapel was officially renamed, Assumption Chapel. It wasn’t until 1962 when the chapel was being renovated that the earliest reference to the name “Assumption Chapel” appears in the Rattler.
While the Chapel has served as a foundation for many, it was not built on the strongest physical foundation. The original chapel used long wooden logs that were set into the ground to support the structure – but the foundation started to allow movement of the entire structure. Throughout the years, not only the Chapel, but Reinbolt Hall as a whole have faced structural issues leading to its most recent renovation, which reattached the Chapel to the main structure. This renovation also gave a cosmetic lift to freshen up the Chapel in 2014, a project funded by the Escobedo Family. This was the second major renovation. The first occurred in the early 1960s, which included a cosmetic refresh as well.
Today, the chapel has remained open to the public and it allows the St. Mary’s University and St. Mary’s Gateway District communities to celebrate not only daily masses but special occasions like Holy Sacraments of baptism, confession, and marriage in this space, as well as special ceremonies for student groups on campus like Student Government Association inaugurations, and the initial steps of joining fraternities. Most importantly, it serves a place to do a little soul searching. Today, Assumption Chapel remains as a staple on campus just as it has for students since its establishment in 1908.