“…for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples” Isaiah 56:7 Today, Bigard Memorial Seminary Enugu, celebrates the “Solemnity of the Rededication of the Bigard Main Chapel.” Of all the many Solemnities and Feasts celebrated in the Seminary, this one is specific to Bigard (Nke a bu nke anyi).
The Bigard Main Chapel is at the center of the Seminary not only because of its structural location at the center of the Seminary compound but also because it is the most important building and stands at the center of the life and heart of the seminary formation. The Bigard Main Chapel was first completed and dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Apostle Paul in 1961. On account of the peculiar topography of the area, the chapel was built on a made-up ground. Consequently, the ground began to settle unevenly with resultant cracks on the floor and walls. Despite all efforts to patch the cracks and fill them out, they continued to widen and deepen. Unless the gaps created as a result of the settling movements were completely eliminated, the cracks would continue to increase and widen more and more. This would certainly affect the stability of the building. Thus, allowing the building to remain in this condition was very dangerous as there was the danger of its complete collapse. It therefore became very imperative and a matter of urgency.
Manifested Defects Prior to Renovation
Thorough assessment of the building prior to the renovation by experts revealed the following defects:
(i) Structural cracks had developed on some of the external walls; solid sandcrete piers; concrete roof gutters and fascias as well as on parts of the inside ground floor slab and the external pavement slabs.
(ii) There was evidence of profuse leakage on the roofs as well as on parts of the gutter slabs and fascias.
(iii) The ceiling was generally dilapidated. (iv) The colored glasses in the chapel windows wore grim evidence of age and were badly broken in many places.
Following the above findings of the team of experts the seminary had to immediately embark on the project of rededication of the Bigard Main Chapel. The need for renovation was really urgent. The seminary’s meagre resources and unavailability of fund posed a serious threat. Yet, convinced that God will, in his own way make provision for the realization of the project, the seminary embarked upon the project, sending out appeals to both local and foreign benefactors and philanthropists.
Following the suggested remedial actions given by experts, the following major works were carried out in the Main Chapel: i. Excavations around the entire building to expose the foundation and substructure; ii. Reinforcement of the foundation with reinforced concrete beams spanning along the entire foundation; iii. Backfilling of the foundation with sharp sand, hardcore and BRC mesh wire before re-concreting: iv. Repair of the cracked walls and damaged concrete gutters on the roof of the building: v. Repair of the leaking roof; Rehabilitation of the drainage system; vi. Replacement of the previously existing floor tiles and external pavements with granite tile vii. Installation of PVC ceiling viii. Installation of new stain glasses with artistic design on the windows; ix. Erection of a solid immovable altar; x. Repainting of the entire building.
To the greater Glory of God the renovation of the Chapel was completed and rededicated on the 5th of March 2005. It is this wonderful and divine edifice that still stands till today as the livewire of the seminary. Other maintenance and renovation works are still done from time to time to ensure that it remains the best. We pray that the Holy Spirit renew within us as His temples, so like this place dedicated for divine service, our very lives may be transformed through the liturgy we celebrate.