Students at an Upper Peninsula university are taking outdoor worship to a new level this winter.
As part of Michigan Tech University’s annual Winter Festival, a group of students, faculty, staff and members of Greater Paris University sculpted an entire chapel out of snow and three special masses, which will be held inside the outdoor sculpture on Friday. and Saturday.
Rev. Ben Hussey St. Albert’s Greater Catholic Campus Ministry at MTU said that the annual creation of ice is called “Our Lady of the Snows”.
“It was an interesting and fun thing that we came across. It wasn’t a very strategic plan … it ended up being probably our most popular event,” Hasse said.
Michigan Tech University’s annual winter festival was already a popular scene in Houghton, but the festival gained international attention when Catholic students created the university’s first ice chapel in 2016.
Hasse said the idea came from the parent of a student who shared with him an article about ice churches built in Eastern Europe.
“I didn’t think much of it at the time, I showed the article to some students…I didn’t really plan on it.
Then, a student suggested they implement the idea, and in 2016 the students began shoveling, shaping and carving the first ice church.
“The first year we had 140 people come, which was at least five times more than I actually ruled out,” Hasse said.
Since then, hundreds of students and community members from Catholic and non-Catholic faiths have come to help build the outdoor chapel and attend mass.
In between live broadcast and personally, Hasse expects to see a large turnout for the three masses that will be celebrated during the festival on Friday at 5:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. and Saturday at 10 a.m. at 411 MacInnes Drive in Houghton.
This year’s church includes an ice substitute made from multiple slabs of Lake Superior ice; frosted stained glass windows made by dying and painting frosted panels, a confessional carved from snow; hand-carved side aisles; and a high platform.