The chapel honors the memory of James Brian Branton, a member of the Brother Martin High School Class of 1974. Jim died suddenly on April 5, 1974, and was awarded a posthumous diploma with his classmates on May 23rd of that year. Through the generous gift of the H.T. Branton family, the chapel was made possible so that future generations of Crusaders will know of Jim and better appreciate the life given to them by God. The James B. Branton Award, donated by the Class of 1974, is given each year at commencement to a graduate judged as an unheralded influence for good on the Brother Martin community. The James B. Branton Memorial Fund provides financial aid scholarships for students annually.
Waggonner and Ball Architects, along with Ryan Gootee General Contractors, designed and constructed the chapel to recognize the traditions of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart and to complement the educational philosophy of Brother Martin High School. The chapel is framed by the courtyard in front of the Meyer Building and is raised on a three foot tablet signifying its importance on campus as a place of worship. The chapel is 5,500 square feet and includes two offices and narthex space which will be used for small gatherings. The chapel also features seating for 236.
One design element of special interest in the chapel is the stained glass (circa 1853) preserved from the Brothers’ chapel in Paradis, located in Le Puy, France, near where the Brothers of the Sacred Heart order was founded. The stained glass pieces, depicting the Sacred Heart, have been carefully hand restored by Lizano Glass Haus in Metairie and mounted in a custom glass enclosure. Sunlight captured in the narthex of the chapel will highlight the unique and historical beauty of these pieces. The chapel’s exterior cross, designed and fabricated by metal artist John Perilloux of Robert, Louisiana, is reminiscent of the mission crosses erected by the founder of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart, Father André Coindre, throughout south central France following the French Revolution. The design will incorporate centuries-old traditional blacksmith wrought iron artistry. (Click here to see the Mission Cross Installation).
Brother Martin High School has always made a prayer space available to students, faculty, and staff. Educational Mission and Ministry states that, “We hope that prayer suited to the needs of adolescents will permeate our school in a natural way by becoming a regular part of the classroom, of extracurricular activities, of school celebrations, and especially of the religion class.” When the Brothers’ residence and chapel were demolished to make way for the Meyer Building, temporary prayer space was designated on the second floor of the main classroom building. The James B. Branton Chapel fills the need for a permanent prayer space for the school.