Sometimes, faith creates shrines in surprising places.

That seems to be what has happened in Delaware, where a statue of the Blessed Mother has become a destination for hundreds:

When Joseph Tighe stopped to visit the Our Lady Queen of Peace statue Aug. 15, he was pleasantly surprised by some unexpected company.

The 47-year-old Carneys Point, N.J., man and his wife, Amy, happened to visit the 33-foot statue next to Holy Spirit Church just as Father Timothy Nolan and about 100 others processed to the statue for a sunset rosary service to mark the Feast of the Assumption. The service marked the first major Marian feast day since the statue was dedicated in May.

If all goes as hoped, the observance would be the first of many devotions, pilgrimages and conferences at Holy Spirit as the parish moves to turn the grounds around the statue into a shrine.

The statue already has attracted another large gathering – about 500 people are expected for the diocesan charismatic conference Sept. 28-30. And Father Nolan, who became Holy Spirit’s pastor July 19, plans to encourage fellow pastors to lead parish pilgrimages to the site.

Since the statue by Wilmington sculptor Charles Parks arrived, Holy Spirit has started eucharistic adoration on Saturdays, between the 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Masses, and a Miraculous Medal devotion at 7 p.m. Mondays.

Those devotions have been slow to catch on, according to longtime parishioner Matt Janicki, 74, one of about 25 people who attended the 8 a.m. Mass on Aug. 11. He also attended the Miraculous Medal devotion, which he said draws about 30 people.

“The summertime is tough,” he said, given vacations and the lure of the beach. He hopes attendance at both devotions picks up, especially in October, a month traditionally devoted to Marian activities.

Holy Spirit and Our Lady Queen of Peace have a symbiotic relationship, Father Nolan believes. “The statue of Mary and the shrine will help attract people to the parish, and a lively parish will help maintain a shrine that will be an attractive place. The people here are very open to visitors and happy to see people stopping by.”

A parish committee is guiding the shrine’s development and activities.

“It would be nice to have outdoor stations of the cross, a place where people could light candles and place flowers, where people would have a place to sit and spend some time in prayer,” Father Nolan said. “That can come fairly soon, but we need to do it right.”

Even without those improvements, the statue, located on the side of the church off busy I-295 just west of the Delaware Memorial Bridge, attracts a small but steady stream of visitors who come to admire the sculpture, pray, and leave flowers and prayer intentions.

Further proof that you can never tell where faith will flourish.

Photo: by Don Blake, The Wilmington Dialog

More from Beliefnet and our partners
Close Ad