Founders Chapel is more than just a beautiful place of worship. It’s part of the fabric of the University of San Diego. It’s family.
It took two years to build, opening in 1953 as part of university co-founder Mother Rosalie Clifton Hill’s vision for the evolving San Diego College for Women. Founders Chapel remains a popular wedding venue for USD alumni, hosts daily mass at 12:15 p.m., Mass for Peace at 9 p.m. every Wednesday during the school year, Sunday Mass at 7 and 9 p.m. and seasonal events such as Lessons and Carols in December.
“It’s really about the community for me and how students, alumni and everyone come together here. It’s a great place for everyone to gather,” said Sara Campion, a senior psychology major, about Founders Chapel.
“Founders Chapel has been my home away from home,” said Peytra Osetinsky, a senior Interdisciplinary Humanities major. “Sunday night masses are the start to my week. It’s a time to slow down and reflect. It’s been a place of release, hope and strength.”
Janelle Oto, a sophomore English major, knew she wanted to attend a Catholic university. She chose USD over Saint Mary’s and Loyola Marymount. Attending mass at Founders Chapel contributes to Oto’s good feelings about her college decision.
“It’s always nice to see so many students and staff here on Sunday night for Mass. You can really feel the energy that students bring to it,” said Oto, who serves as a Eucharist minister. “Everyone comes here not because they have to, but because they really want to be here. I really like the Catholic environment on campus. It’s open and people are willing to share their faith and everything.”
Ciano Ordinola, a junior business finance and economics major, said Founders Chapel can help all students establish a better connection to campus. “You’ll see a lot of new faces one week and before you know it, they’re back and eventually they’re here every weekend,” he said. “It’s like a family here.”
Campion said she’s been coming to mass regularly since her junior year, but that going on the University Ministry Search Retreat and on community service-oriented day trips to Tijuana strengthened her faith.
Daniel Hernandez, a senior Spanish and Theology and Religious Studies double major, has maintained his Roman Catholic faith since he arrived as a USD student.
“I quickly became immersed in the extraordinary faith community on campus and it helped me not only keep in touch with my faith, but also challenged the way I approached society and the world,” he said. “My faith has put many things in perspective. It’s not just about me, as our individualistic society flaunts, but it’s about helping others in whatever way necessary. My faith journey while at USD has made me realize it’s not enough to study theology; rather, I must also put into practice what I’ve learned or it’s all in vain.”
An immersion trip last October to East Los Angeles and Tijuana day trips, Hernandez said, were beneficial. “I’ve come to understand the overall value of my education and my vocation very differently.”
Both Campion and Hernandez said they are entering the Jesuit Volunteer Corps upon graduation in May.
“I’ve been exposed to many of the injustices in this world through the immersion/service trips and they’ve challenged me to be a social justice activist,” Hernandez said. “I can’t waste my education on just myself; I must utilize everything I’ve learned to help change the world, even if it’s in the minimalist of ways, because, at least, the world is that much better off.”
— Ryan T. Blystone