Wednesday, Oct 16 2013 03:55 PM

Religious leaders bless chapel at Memorial Hospital before its rebirth

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    During prayer time Wednesday at the dedication of a new interfaith chapel at Memorial Hospital, all those involved held hands, representing different faiths in the community. It was named the Monsignor Craig Harrison Interfaith chapel. Harrison is in the back, second from left.

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Monsignor Craig Harrison (standing) moderates the dedication of the interfaith chapel Wednesday at Memorial Hospital on 34th Street. Faith leaders representing the community joined together for an interfaith blessing of the chapel.

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Hands were held in a circle during Wednesday's dedication and prayer time at the interfaith chapel at Memorial Hospital.

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BY RACHEL COOK Californian staff writer

With chant, prayer and song, local religious leaders of several faiths gathered Wednesday morning to bless Bakersfield Memorial Hospital's chapel in preparation for its coming conversion.

The space is slated to be renovated at a cost of a quarter of a million dollars and christened the Monsignor Craig Harrison Interfaith Chapel. The present chapel -- with its mustard yellow chairs and lantern-style sconces -- conflicts with the hospital's sleek, renovated entrance.

Monsignor Craig F. Harrison said he was honored when the hospital approached him to be involved in the project, but he wanted to be sure the undertaking was ecumenical.

"We need to look at those things that unite us together and bring us together. It was a very powerful experience today," Harrison said.

About 20 people, including Jewish, Muslim, Protestant, Catholic and Hindu leaders, congregated in the chapel to bless the area. Their offerings included a chant in Hindu, a prayer in Arabic and a Christian hymn. They prayed for the project and for the chapel to be a place of healing and comfort, Harrison said.

Disciples of different religions will be able to use the chapel for multiple purposes, such as services and classes. Robin Mangarin-Scott, director of strategic marketing for Dignity Health, said the chapel will house symbols of each faith and a library. Plans include a skylight and murals depicting different faiths on the ceiling leading to the light in the center.

The renovations are estimated to take about three months but the hospital must clear the project with the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development first, so it could be anywhere from one to six months before constructions starts, said Mangarin-Scott.

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