By parishioner Ed Weiss
In the years, 1999/2000, our second phase of remodeling began. The chapel, which was originally considered in 1988 and was postponed because of cost, became a reality. The architect for this major project was Larry Peer, of Osceola. I worked closely with Larry on the layout
After Larry's death, Gary Gabrich was asked to finish the expansion project for Little Flower. This phase of expansion included not only the chapel, but the new Parish Center.
The "brick screen" concept that is used behind the altar is common with the brick work on the east walls in the original church wall near the baptistry. By incorporating this pattern of brick work, and also using the same shape windows and wood beams, the new chapel was given a feeling of belonging, as if it has always been a part of the original structure of the chapel. One of the requirements for the design was that it should be able to hold about 85 people for small weddings or small funerals. The aisle was laid out on the diagonal for maximum length for the bride to walk.
Larry knew I had some workable ideas for the chapel and pretty much gave me full reign over the design of the interior. Of course, he did all of the engineering and structural calculations. Larry also suggested the glass blocks that are incorporated into the exterior bricks on the north east corner. Flood lights on the lawn not only illuminate the chapel at night, but from the inside, the translucent light creates a feeling of depth behind the altar's brick curtain.
I was prepared to create a new design for the altar of the new chapel. Most people on the committee expressed a desire to retain the concept used in the main sanctuary. The new chapel altar is a scaled down version. The only newly designed piece is the candle holder for a single candle rather than for three candles. This came about because of space restraints.
The carpeting in the chapel retains the common pattern and color of the main sanctuary.
The interior design concept of our chapel was inspired by St. Maria Goretti Church in Coal Valley, IL. I learned during the final days of construction that Fr. Jim Bracke's father was the architect of St. Marie Goretti Church.
Unknown to many, Larry was suffering from an undiagnosed illness during this time. On Thursday, October 9, 1999, four days following the ground breaking, Larry C. Peer died. He was such a joy to work with, that most of us felt we lost a member of our family. Those of us who had the pleasure of knowing and working with him will never forget him.
The dedication of the new facilities was held on Sunday, October 2, 2000.