Marquette receives $1 million gift to preserve historic St. Joan of Arc Chapel

President Michael R. Lovell shared today that the university has received a gift of $1 million from the Slaggie Family Foundation to help preserve one of Marquette University’s most sacred spaces — St. Joan of Arc Chapel. Last spring, university leaders conducted a historic structure report aimed at conserving the more than 600-year-old chapel for future generations. Originally built in France, the chapel was reconstructed on campus more than 50 years ago.

“St. Joan of Arc Chapel is a historical treasure and the spiritual centerpiece of our campus,” President Lovell said. “I want to thank the Slaggie Family Foundation for ensuring that this unique and beloved prayerful space will inspire our students and the Marquette community long into the future.”

Soon after arriving at Marquette, President Lovell and his wife, Amy, attended Mass at St. Joan of Arc Chapel. Since then, they have often attended the popular Tuesday 10 p.m. Mass with students.

The gift from the Slaggie Family Foundation establishes an endowment dedicated to preserving the chapel’s distinctive medieval architecture, including the lintels, ceiling, flooring and roof. University Advancement is continuing to raise the remaining capital funding for the $3 million restoration project.

The historic study, led by Vice President for Planning and Facilities Management Lora Strigens and her team, also calls for improved accessibility for students and visitors through accommodating paths, surfaces and steps on the chapel grounds, which lead through the adjacent Marian Grotto.

A spiritual experience for the next generation

“The values instilled in Catholic education and the importance of Catholic identity have always been ingrained in our family,” said Matthew Slaggie, a 2004 graduate from Marquette’s J. William and Mary Diederich College of Communication, who thanked his father, Steve, and mother, Barbara, for both the example they set and for their full support making this gift. The alumnus said he walked by the facility daily as a Marquette undergraduate. “It gives us a wonderful sense of pride knowing that the next generation will be able to experience this spiritual space.”

St. Joan of Arc Chapel represents the largest work in the collection of Marquette’s Haggerty Museum of Art, serving as an important focus of academic learning and discovery. It is featured in numerous classes and exhibitions.

Vice President for University Advancement Tim McMahon emphasized the recent philanthropic momentum from the Marquette community as this commitment follows four major gift announcements during last week’s Presidential Address. Marquette is preparing to publicly launch its comprehensive fundraising campaign this April.

“We remain inspired by our passionate alumni, parents and friends as their generosity is helping Marquette to Be the Difference both today and well into the future,” McMahon said. “We are thankful to the Slaggie family for their significant gift. The Slaggie Endowment will provide funds in perpetuity to preserve one of Marquette’s most sacred and iconic spaces.”

First dedicated in 1966, the chapel’s original donors were Marc and Lillian Rojtman, who gifted the chapel itself. In a letter to then Marquette president Rev. Edward J. O’Donnell, S.J., Marc Rojtman said, “This chapel means far more to me than any donation I have ever made and transcends by far any mere monetary value.”

Open to hope

The St. Joan of Arc Chapel gift announcement culminates the university’s annual Mission Week celebration. Throughout the week, faculty, staff and students have been listening to inspirational speakers and participating in Mass, reflection and prayer services in celebration of the theme, “Open to hope.”

“Hope often comes to us through the extraordinary people we meet, those with a generosity of spirit which opens us up to see greater possibilities,” said Vice President of Mission and Ministry Rev. James Voiss, S.J. “We are so thankful to the Slaggie family. Their generosity inspires us to carry on our mission for the greater glory of God.”