In the third score of its years, St. Mark’s University Parish and Student Center said, “Let there be skylights.” It did then bring forth skylights, as well as a mural, a sound system, a baptismal font and some sensible ceramic tiling.
After 10 months of construction it looked upon what it had brought forth, and lo, it was aesthetically pleasing.
Built in 1966, St. Mark’s had not undergone any renovation since its construction. The recent renovations included the addition of skylights, energy efficient light fixtures, ceramic tiling, a chapel, a new sound system and a baptismal font. St. Mark’s, located at 6550 Picasso Rd., held its dedication ceremony in March of 2002.
“Aesthetically it’s much more open and comfortable to be in. It used to be dark, but now there’s much more light,” said Valerie Barrow, a junior communications major and member of the Parish-Pastoral team. “Going through the renovations as a community really brought us together. We now take pride in our worship place.”
The chapel was created by adding a glass partition to separate it from the rest of the main worship space. It provides an area for smaller daily services and for individuals to pray. Inside the chapel, various pieces of artwork adorn the walls. Among these is a commissioned portrait of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
“This says something about our identity as a bicultural church, serving not only UCSB students, but also the Mexican families in Isla Vista,” Associate Pastor Paul Rospond said.
Lalo Garcia, an artist from San Fernando, painted the portrait of our Lady of Guadalupe. Recently, the Los Angeles Archdiocese also commissioned Garcia to do work on the new $195 million cathedral in L.A.
In addition to the portrait, the chapel also contains an artistic representation of the Twelve Stations of the Cross. They are photographs of the original pencil drawings done by Randy Dixon of Berkeley.
The baptismal font, large enough to immerse an adult, is one addition that reflects the changing times.
“We can now do baptisms by immersion as opposed to pouring, in accordance to the Church’s new guidelines,” Pastor Joe Scott said.
The renovations, done by Frank Schipper Construction Company, drastically altered the ambiance of the main worship space. Prior to the construction, the main worship space had carpeting and few sources of light. Now it has beige ceramic tiles and an abundance of natural lighting, thanks to the addition of skylights.
The main worship space reflects some of the changes in church doctrine as a result of the Second Vatican Council of 1965. Breaking away from the traditional layout of rows of church benches leading up to an altar, St. Mark’s and other modern churches are now adapting a seating arrangement in which the altar is surrounded by individual chairs.
At the back of the main worship space a large modernistic mural hangs from a mobile track. The mural, painted by UCSB student Michael Dvorcsak in 1966, was originally at the front of the church. The mural, which features a cosmic representation of Christ, was allegedly inspired by the theories of Jesuit scientist and theologian Pierre Teilhard de Chardin who said, “Christ invests himself organically with the very majesty of His Universe.”
During construction, the clergy held services at various locations around Isla Vista. St. Michael’s and All Angels Episcopal Church served as a location for Saturday afternoon masses and special events. The Hillel Center served as a location for Sunday morning masses; Sunday evening masses were held on campus.
“This says something about our good relations with our neighbors and our commitment to campus ministry in a collegial inter-faith context,” Rospond said.
The church still hopes to add more improvements and additions.
“We hope to eventually add some stained glass windows and works of art,” Scott said.