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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Former student donates final touches to All Faiths’ Chapel

Chapel+Rededication
Photo by: Alexis Will
Chapel Rededication

The next time someone enters A&M’s All Faiths’ Chapel, they’ll see the refurbished ceiling, the contemporary lay of carpet and the new seats. But what some may not notice is the bench in the entryway and what it represents.
Douglas Kennedy, Class of 1969, and his wife Cyndy Kennedy donated the bench in honor of the chapel’s role in Douglas Kennedy’s college experience. Cyndy Kennedy said she and her husband bought the bench when the church her father attended was torn down. It stayed in the Kennedy’s home for many years until the idea to remodel the chapel came about in 2014.
“When we decided to do the [chapel] renovation here, I knew, for my father, it would be a great way to honor him by putting it in my father’s house, my God’s house,” Cyndy Kennedy said. “My father really loved Texas A&M University. [My father] was not an Aggie, but my brother was — [my father] would have [been an Aggie] if he could have.”
An intimate ceremony Saturday morning celebrated the conclusion of a year-and-a-half renovation on the chapel. The ceremony was attended by friends and family of Cyndy and Douglas Kennedy in addition to members in Squadron 2, the same Corps of Cadets unit Douglas Kennedy was part of when he was a student.
“In 1965 as a freshman, I was under a lot of stress. There was a lot of anxiety, a lot of pressure,” Douglas said in his speech. “So I walked through those doors back there almost 50 years ago and sat in a chair [in the back of the chapel], and I got on my knees and I said God, ‘Will you help sustain me through this year because it is a tough year?’ And he answered that prayer.”
The upgrades were the first full renovation of the chapel since its opening in 1957. In total, President and CEO of the Association of Former Students Porter Garner said the revamp was about $750,000. Renovations were overseen by Neil Peltier, assistant director at the University Center and Special Events Department. Renovations were overseen by Neil Peltier, assistant director at the University Center and Special Events Department.
“Believe it or not, we kept the chapel open almost the entire time during the renovation,” Peltier said. “There was very few times we had to block it for installation of carpet or seating, but for a lot of the rest of the renovation we tried to keep it open.”
Peltier also said they tried to maximize building by working on the chapel when classes were not in session. The greatest challenge was to keep the chapel looking like it did when it first opened. He said he wanted it to look familiar but also new.
“We worked with Lilia Gonzalez, the campus architect, and she helped us identify what the original finishes were in the building so we could stay true to them during the process,” Peltier said. “We also looked at historical photos and just really tried to keep it the same as when it opened. It was a lot of fun.”
Peltier said the chapel has been a place for him to reflect and find peace. Garner said there is significance in the chapel for him as well.
“I had been named president of [The Association of Former Students] in May of ’99, so late in the year, you can imagine the transition was almost complete, and then the bonfire fell on November 18, 1999,” Garner said. “I know full well that being in the middle of everything, this chapel was a significant facility in a lot of healing for a lot of Aggies.”
For the Kennedy family, Cyndy Kennedy said it was about honoring what the chapel has done for former students and what it will do for the future ones, as do many other former students.
“I really hope that they will come here, not just in times of need but in times of thanks,” Garner said. “It is easy to come here, as I did, when there was a tragedy and when your faith is perhaps tested, but I hope Aggies will come here and offer thanks for the many blessing in they enjoy — both in their life and at Texas A&M.”

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