Michigan college students navigate COVID-19 restrictions by building ice chapel to celebrate Mass outdoors
Colby McCoy, DCNF
Students at Michigan Technological University (MTU) creatively navigated Michigan’s COVID-19 restrictions by building an ice chapel with pews to celebrate Mass outdoors, WLUC TV-6 reported.
This marks the 6th annual ice chapel Mass conducted by St. Albert The Great University Parish, an event that is part of a wider MTU Winter Carnival tradition, which began in 1934, WLUC TV-6 reported.
“Every year, we’ll see guests and visitors from the area,” Fr. Ben Hasse, Director of Campus Ministry for St. Albert The Great Parish, told WLUC TV-6. “Often, students will bring their parents, and we get to meet their parents. Students will bring their friends. It’s been a great opportunity to welcome people, to meet them, and to pray with them.”
Although Michigan’s winter weather can be incredibly intense, between 200-250 people reportedly attended the outdoor Mass and left positive feedback, Hasse told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
In addition to harsh winter weather, Hasse’s parish has had to navigate the stark realities of COVID-19, which limits the ability of religious institutions to hold traditional Mass indoors due to occupancy limits and social distancing requirements.
“We asked ourselves, how do we do this responsibly? We decided to build pews to accommodate more worshippers, which is something we are doing now,” Hasse told the DCNF. Hasse celebrated the outdoor Mass and ice chapel as an “encouraging” way for students to live their faith in a “unique and fun way.”
“Absolutely. This is part of the much bigger reality of winter carnivals. We started the ice chapel as a way of doing something intensely Catholic” while enjoying MTU’s greater Winter Carnival tradition, Hasse told the DCNF when asked whether students were excited for this year’s ice chapel Mass.