Members of the MIT community gathered recently at the historic MIT Chapel to dedicate the intimate stained-glass entranceway to Catherine McLaughlin Hakim, the late wife of MIT alumnus Raymond Hakim ’68.
“The two of us were very devout,” Hakim said before the dedication on April 14. “We used to come to this very chapel when we were dating. I was studying for my PhD here at MIT, and she was attending Emmanuel (College) at the time.”
The entire structure recently underwent extensive renovations. During that process the pathway was disassembled, the glass panels repaired and reinforced, and the framework refurbished. The newly rechristened Catherine McLaughlin Hakim Pathway now ushers the faithful and curious alike into one of MIT’s most recognizable — and surprising — landmarks.
The MIT Chapel was designed by famed Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen and dedicated in 1955. The cylindrical brick structure is surrounded by a moat that reflects light into the sanctuary. A metal sculpture by Harry Bertoia hangs from a dramatic skylight and surrounds the glittering white marble altar. Though it appears windowless from the outside, the entire sanctuary is bathed in glorious luminance on a sunny day.
“It’s really beautiful when the sun is shining fully,” Hakim said. “This place is one where you can step away from science and feel whole spiritually; where souls can be fed and nourished, and you can feel safe reaching in and reaching out. You can feel at peace and with nature.”
The dedication, which was preceded by a mass celebrating Mrs. Hakim’s life, was conducted by Robert M. Randolph, chaplain to the Institute, and Rev. Richard Clancy, MIT's Tech Catholic Community chaplain and director of the Archdiocese of Boston's Campus Ministry. Coincidentally, Father Clancy served on Campus Ministry at Emmanuel College where Catherine Hakim was a student.
“It kind of came full circle in that way,” Hakim said. “It means a lot to us.”