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The annual construction of an ice chapel at Michigan Technological University has been completed, and their Ice Mass has been celebrated. This is the third iteration of the annual ice chapel, which has become a mainstay of Michigan Tech’s Winter Carnival. This year’s ice chapel was the biggest yet and allowed for a huge crowd in this outdoor, standing-room-only venue.
According to Michigan Tech, it took a little more than two weeks to complete the open-air structure, built by packing snow and pounding it into shape. This year’s ice chapel measures 35 feet by 60 feet, coming in five feet wider and 10 feet longer than the previous year. The organizers noted that they don’t expect one of their ice chapels to ever get bigger than this.
In footage of a February 10 ice chapel service, dozens – if not hundreds – can be seen packed into the ice chapel, affectionately referred to as Our Lady of the Snows. There were even students standing atop the snowy walls so they could take part in the celebration.
This annual endeavor is overseen by St. Albert the Great University Parish, which has been serving the Catholic students of MTU since 1963. The students, many of whom study one form or another of engineering, bring their skills to table, while guided by Father Ben Hasse, who has been building snow forts since he was in the Boy Scouts. Fr. Hasse is also on hand for the Masses celebrated at Our Lady of the Snows.
While the ice chapel is impressive in its scope and ornamentation – each year the students use food coloring in ice to create the impression of stained glass on the snowy walls – it may be even more impressive at night. On their Facebook page, St. Albert’s shared a bunch of photos of the chapel during their candlelit Mass.
While the stained glass effect is really nice, other works of art emblazoned upon the snow white walls are noticeably improved from previous years. This year they even have representation of the Divine Mercy, outlined with more “stained ice.”
Unfortunately the region experienced some unseasonably warm weather in recent days. St. Albert’s announced on Facebook that the ice chapel “took a beating in this warm weather” on February 13. As a result, they would have to cancel their last Mass, but they were still able to use the space to offer confessions in the chapel’s “Ice Confessional.”