The CNU Chapel

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people in life that inspire us. Whether they are celebrities or a family member or even a peer…. almost everyone has someone they look up to. Michael and I are very thankful that we have an abundance of people in our life that we admire and look up to in so many different ways. I like to think of these people as being on our “Impact” list. In some way, shape or form, these individuals came into our lives and they had a profound impact on us. Maybe they made an impact on our marriage…. maybe their leadership was inspiring…. or maybe their public declaration of their faith was what made such a great impression.

Well, there are two individuals that have impacted us in all of those ways and that’s President Paul Trible and his amazing wife Rosemary.

President Trible is a former US Senator that later became the President of Christopher Newport University.  It was a small university that needed a lot of change and a lot of inspiration. Someone needed to believe in this little school and they needed to have an audacious dream for what it could become.  In the last decade, President Trible and Rosemary’s vision for what is now “Christopher Newport University” has come to life. The campus has literally been rebuilt and what was once a small, local community college is now a thriving, nationally recognized university that receives roughly 12,000 freshman applications to fill 1200 spots. Amazing right?

Well, as amazing as the new multi-million dollar buildings are, the most impressive part of CNU, in my opinion, is the leadership.  CNU is a public university and yet President Trible and Rosemary have never shied away from allowing their faith to be known.  I was blessed to be a part of a small bible study with Rosemary during my 4 years at CNU.  It was during that time together that I heard the most incredible stories and really got to know this amazing woman. While I was able to get to know Rosemary through that small group, Michael had the privilege of getting to know President Trible through a job opportunity. Michael worked alongside President Trible for a year while I was finishing school.  He assisted him in every way possible. Whether it was driving him to Richmond for a board meeting or helping him prep for a presentation, Michael was the go-to man.  President Trible would talk about his time on the hill while they made their almost weekly trips to Richmond and I blame him 100% for Michael’s obsession with Celine Dion & Andrea Bocelli’s, “The Prayer” (Don’t tell Michael I told you that).

In 2008, Rosemary started talking about a dream that she just couldn’t shake. You see, she experienced a life changing event that no one had ever heard about. She held onto this story for 30+ years until it was the right time to tell it…. and that time came in 2008.  Rosemary told me that it was time for her story to be heard and she was going to write a book…. and she did. I helped Rosemary create the cover of her  book and after this dream of hers came to life, she shared another dream.  I remember Rosemary saying that she envisioned CNU having a Chapel on campus.  After the track record of her previous endeavors, I knew that even though this seemed like a long shot, it was going to happen…. and it did.

On Sunday evening, Michael and I drove to Newport News because we were invited to the  dedication ceremony of the “Pope Chapel” on CNU’s campus.  This is the first Chapel to be completed on a public university’s campus in over 50 years. Sure, other historic campuses have chapels but none of them were built recently because faith on a public campus isn’t looked upon highly.  This chapel was privately funded and it’s available to all faiths.  President Trible and Rosemary shared that they believe that all students should have the freedom to worship on their campus and now they have a building to accomodate them. What is so amazing to me about this whole story isn’t the glowing rotunda or the marble floors, it’s the boldness of Paul and Rosemary.  They are so often criticized for their faith and yet they have such a deep, grounded understanding of the gospel that those critics don’t even phase them. I don’t care what you may believe… but that’s inspiring. Anyone who stands up for what he/she believes is inspiring…but when public figures that have a lot to lose decide to stay true to their faith, I believe that’s something worth recognizing.

Over the course of our time at CNU, we have learned so much from Paul and Rosemary.  We’ve learned that a healthy marriage makes for an unstoppable team. We’ve learned that not everyone slows down after they reach 60 and that someone’s schedule will ALWAYS be crazier than ours. We’ve learned that great leadership is founded on integrity and we’ve also learned that being a faithful follower of Christ, no matter how many people know your name, is the true mark of believer who is unashamed.

In 2008, Rosemary and I started working on a special project.  I had the honor of photographing and designing the mockup for the stained glass window in the chapel.  It’s not my “normal” work and I will probably NEVER have the opportunity to create something like this again and so I’m thankful for the experience.  It was such an honor to sit beside these two incredible leaders on Sunday as they, once again, completed another stage of their vision for CNU.

If you can’t tell, we’re kinda proud of our Alma Mater…. and if you’re in VA and you’re college shopping, you should slip on down to Newport News and visit this amazing campus. I’m telling you, it’s one of the greatest places on earth… but I’m a bit biased. :)

This is the mockup of the design on the left and the finished product on the right.   Thanking his wife for all of her hard work.  Love this. 

 Last but not least, this is a portrait that we cherish from our wedding! We’re so thankful for the role that President Trible and Rosemary have played and continue to play in our lives.


Thanks for reading!

— Katelyn

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