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Class of 2023 cadets see restoration process of Cadet Chapel for first time since its closure

Posted at 10:42 PM, Jun 01, 2023
and last updated 2023-06-02 08:35:23-04

AIR FORCE ACADEMY — The U.S. Air Force Academy Class of 2023 was the last class to be able to worship inside the Cadet Chapel before it closed for restoration in late 2019.

Just days before their graduation, four cadets, all strong in their faith, got to see the chapel's process and reflect on the ways their faith journey had changed without the chapel.

"Being in here for the first time in some three and a half years, it's crazy to see just, one, that it's still here and how much work has just been going into it," said Omar Alali of the Class of 2023.

The national historic landmark is considered an all-faith center of worship with Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, and Buddhist chapels, an All-Faiths Room, and an outdoor worship area known as Falcon Circle.

Manmeet Pelia is the only South Asian woman and follower of Sikhism in the Class of 2023. She said the chapel shines as a symbol of acceptance and community.

"I don't think I know any other place in the United States that has so many faith services and locations in one chapel," she said.

She said besides the chapel, her closest temple is one hour away. After the chapel closed for construction she said she was taken in by the Muslim community.

"We're getting to share time with them and understand not only my faith but then where faithfulness comes from as an airman. Being able to practice those religions with other individuals has meant a lot to me in my time as a cadet," said Pelia.

Josiah Devalois of the Class of 2023 said he saw the chapel for the first time during the summer seminar. Now four years later, he said the chapel's closure has reminded him of what worship truly means to him.

"It's nice that they provide a beautiful chapel and a great building that we can worship in. But I think it's important to remember, also, you know, you don't necessarily need a crazy beautiful building to do that worship," he said.

Shepherd Kruse of the Class of 2023 said after graduation he will be coming back to see the finished chapel.

"I am excited to see the job once it's finished," he said. "When people think of the Air Force Academy, they, of course, envision the planes and envision that it's like this place where everyone's learning to fly and things. But I think the one thing that people notice, the first thing, is the chapel."

The project manager says the chapel is still set to open in 2027. It is in the final phase of restoration.

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