The Africa Chapel
|Arnold Janssen Chapel | Africa Chapel | Chapel of the Holy Spirit|
The Africa Chapel, located on the third floor at Techny Towers, seats 60 people and is used often by retreat groups for services. The windows were designed and executed by Brother Ray Albers, SVD.
Brother Ray developed the concept for the windows from the Akan People of Ghana, West Africa, who have long embraced Adinkra symbols as a visual representation of social thought relating to the history, philosophy, and religious beliefs.
A complete description and interpretation of the windows written by Brother Ray is available upon request. A few details are included here.
The Akan Credo
The Akan believe GYE NYAME, God is the center of all creation. They believe the universe is both a natural and social creation. The Akan also believe human creativity, activity, affects the universe positively and negatively.
The Akan claim the Supreme Being created life and death, and thought death overcame the Supreme Being. However, they believe the Supreme Being had an antidote to death, being able to overcome death. Therefore, the Supreme Being has eternal life, and is spiritual in form and is unburnable, or, indestructible. The Supreme Being puts part of His/Her Spiritual form into human beings, called the soul. The human soul never perishes, and if the human dies the soul is not dead, it lives in the ancestors.
Adinkra Symbols were used for this Chapel because Adinkra symbols compliment Christian symbols, telling us about the spirituality of a people and their culture in relation to ours.
1. The Human Struggle
Starting at the base of the window, the design begins with the smashing of a chain, freeing the human soul of bondage. The bondage of obsessions and possessions affects not only not only individuals but cultures as well.
The rainbow is a symbol of the hope, shining brighter against darkness. Arising out of disarray, flashes of light dispel darkness, an arm reaches to the benevolent hand of the Supreme Being and Ancestors (on the top of the window) for a favorable solution.
2. Mother & Child Of The Universe
In contrast to the Human Struggle, the Child in this window is seen reaching upward in a free and playfully manner. Reaching to the top of the window is BRIBI WO SORO, a symbol of hope, God, there is something in the heavens, let it reach me. The window becomes a story of all the living, with emphasis on the Child of the Universe.
3. African Christ
The back wall of the sanctuary depicts the African Divine Word to be in one window, and the window adjacent, the Divine Word Missionaries logo and African flags of the countries we mission to.
Adjacent to the African Word is the window of the Divine Word Missionaries mission in Africa. The Divine Word Missionaries carry the Gospel to many cultures. Our Divine Word logo and the African map is encircled in HENE carrying its own proverb, “The World Is Our Parish.” Below are 11 African flags of the various countries the missionaries serve. Their brilliant colors represent; Angola, Benin, Botswana, Congo, Ghana, Madagascar, Mozambique, Togo, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Tanzania.
The role of the potter is both Biblical and cultural. The symbol SANKOFA, and its proverb, you can always undo mistakes, echos the Judeo/Christian encounter between Yahweh and Jeremiah, a lesson in undoing mistakes; “go to the potter where clay pots and jars are made. I did as Yahweh told me and found the potter at the wheel. But the jar he was forming didn’t turn out as he wished, so he kneaded into a lump and started all over again.” The Lord said, “can’t I do to you as the potter has done to the clay? As clay in the hands of the potter, so are you in my hands.”
The symbol, KOROYE, along with its proverb, unity in strength, is in a setting of a pensive weaver working in ancestral patterns on the loom. The weaver is aware of KONTIRE NE AKWAN, one head does not make a council. A single thread in one’s life is not strong, but when all of life’s threads are woven together, it has strength and unity.