St John Vianney Chapel on the campus of Christ the King Seminary serves as the focal point for the beautiful East Aurora campus. The name was chosen in honor of the original seminary located on the campus, St. John Vianney Seminary, after its consolidation with Christ the King Seminary in 1974.
The chapel was the site of the groundbreaking for the Seminary’s new East Aurora campus in 1960. The construction of the St. John Vianney Chapel, which was funded by the priests of the diocese, was begun in 1961 and completed in 1962.
The St. John Vianney chapel seats approximately 450 people in both regular pews and choir stalls. A striking feature of the chapel is its altar, standing forward of the rear wall to enable the priest to say Mass in the then conventional fashion or by facing the people. Other major features of the chapel are the two beautiful stained glass windows of the Blessed Mother, Mary, and St. Joseph located overhead on either side of the altar.
A major renovation of the chapel was completed in 1992. This featured remodeling the floor of the chapel and extending the existing slate platform, a new sound system, and a new ceiling mounted lighting system and controls. It also included renovating the sanctuary.
The Seminary contracted with artists Norbert and Victoria Koehn for the furnishing of the renovated sanctuary. They designed a granite tabernacle tower, with a sanctuary light recess and resting on a granite slab that would be flush with the slate platform. The tabernacle was carved to resemble the chapel being held by St. Joseph in the stained glass window overhead. It was made with a linden wood core, with all visible surfaces gild in pure silver sheets and burnished to a high shine. The other fixtures of the Sanctuary, the Presider’s Chair, the Ambo, the candle holders, and the Paschal Candle, were made of wrought iron with a black enamel finish. Completing the set was the large oaken Processional Cross with wrought iron base.
The lighting plan was designed for the chapel to provide even illumination to all surfaces, thus brightening the entire Sanctuary. Over the altar, a fixture was assembled in the shape of a cross. Sixteen feet above the finished floor, it is supported from the ceiling with aircraft cables to give a floating effect.
The St. John Vianney Chapel renovation was competed in the autumn of 1992 and the first service held was Sunday Mass on October 18.
Outside the main entrance to the St. John Vianney Chapel is the site where the founder of the campus, Bishop Joseph Burke, was laid to rest after his sudden death in October, 1962.