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Beacon of Hope

Beacon of Hope

Grotto of Lourdes News

Surprisingly, a lot goes on behind the scenes at the Grotto on campus. The Grotto is like a small business with operations, marketing and finances. As the Grotto continues to grow, the more people are necessary to continue the spiritual refreshment, healing and deeper holiness that this holy place has been for thousands of pilgrims each and every year.

Students participation in operating the Grotto has doubled... tripled within the past two years. Today, the Grotto is blessed to have:

  • two graduate assistants
  • two students earning marketing internship credits
  • two students as scholarship recipients
  • six work study program students, and
  • five seminarians (one deacon, two pre-deacon)

These young students are bringing a whole new level of vibrancy to the grounds. I imagine it was very similar 200 years ago when Fr. DuBois, Fr. Brute, Mother Seton and her sisters where here. Full of ideas, creativity and energy - all wanting to share this special, spiritual place with every person possible!

Here is one student's reflection:

Well, what exactly can I say about working at the Grotto? I love everything that the Grotto has to offer. I love helping and meeting all sorts of people from different countries! I love the different languages they speak and the culture that they bring. I feel as if working at the Grotto brings me much closer to my faith.

Although the stairs (between main campus and the Grotto) are quite intimidating and somewhat troublesome, it is well worth the walking up the steps to the Grotto. When I reach the top, I love the look at the view, the horizons and the university. Working here will never stop putting a smile on my face.

Melissa Sorto-Zepeda, Class of 2017


VietPilMore than 3,000 Vietnamese Catholics celebrated mass at the Grotto of Lourdes on Saturday, August 30, afternoon.

This weekend marked the 31st anniversary of the annual pilgrimage, which brings together worshippers from 19 Vietnamese communities in the mid-Atlantic states, said Monsignor Joseph Trinh, president of the Vietnamese Catholic Community in the region.

Nine priests celebrated the afternoon mass in Vietnamese, and other church members performed traditional songs and dances. "It's a lot of spiritual fun, and it's inspiring to see God's love manifested through different languages and cultures," he said.

Trinh, of Philadelphia, has made the trip to Emmitsburg every year since 1991. The event is primarily religious, but it's also a reunion for many church members, he said.

"We're here to honor Our Lady, but it's also a place we meet and see old friends," Trinh said.

Members of the Vietnamese Catholic Community travel to other religious sites and shrines throughout the year, but Trinh's group enjoys the pilgrimage to the Grotto of Lourdes for its history, he said.

judeThe St. Jude statue and its newly surrounding shrine was rededicated on August 19 at the National Shrine Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes. 
The statue was installed in the late 1990s due to the generosity of Dr. Vincent and Mrs. Amy Pisula. The Pisula family has had a great devotion to St. Jude, patron saint for desperate situations, for many years. 
The Staten family has also had a great dedication to St. Jude. Joe Staten, Mount St. Mary's University alumni (class of 1989), often walked the Grotto grounds when he attended the Mount. Today, Joe's daughter, Mary Catherine, is going to the Mount. The continuing legacy of Mounties and his love for the Grotto made Joe realize this national shrine is the best place to memorialize his father, Robert Shekletski. 
The Staten and Shekletski families made it possible for the St. Jude statue, given by Dr. and Mrs. Pisula nearly 20 years ago, to be commemorated with a patio and walls. The area now has become a shrine for the popular saint.
The rededication began with the celebration of Mass in St. Mary’s Chapel, a blessing at the St. Jude Shrine and ended with a private reception. Dr. and Mrs. Pisula, Mrs. Grace Shekletski (wife of the late Robert Shekletski), Mr. and Mrs. Joe Staten and other family members attended. 
(photo: Dr. Vincent Pisula visiting St. Jude Shrine at the National Shrine Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes, August 19, 2014)

Fr. John Brute built a lovely bower as an entrance to the Grotto and this was enlarged and kept in repair through the years. Certainly in his day (circa 1827) and by his example, began the tradition of industrious devotion to Our Lady at the Grotto which was so well express by Dr. McSweeney in the Great Rule of the Seminary written in 1898:

Mountaineers"Of Devotion to Our Blessed Mother and the Grotto -- The Shrine on the mountain is dear to every heart that has beaten within the sound of the splashing stream tumbling past this holy spot. Fr. Brute, the Angel of the Mount, and Mistress, Seton (St. Elizabeth Ann Seton), the heroic foundress of the Sisters of Charity, sanctified the place by their visits and cherished it with loving care. The seminarians should care for its rustic beauty and cultivate, as a most precious flower, filial devotion to dearest Mother Mary."

The Seminary Sodality, first formed September 8, 1819, and reorganized in 1868, listed in its Rule as one of its duties "Keeping the Grotto in order." Through the years this loving care of the Grotto continued, each generation of Mountaineers adding its contribution of love and receiving its legacy of devotion.

processionA memorable devotion centered about the old Grotto was the annual Corpus Christi procession. It was during Archbishop Purcell's term as president of the college (1829-1833) that these annual processions to the Grotto over Brute's paths began, or at least began to be chronicled, and another charm was added to the Mountain.

The "Story of the Mountain" contains a number of articles by Mountaineers who try to put into words the unspeakable joy of their memory of these holy occasions. Reading them, we are reminded of the comment of the poet Miles: "Who can wonder that we turn with overflowing hearts to Mount Staint Mary's and speak to her with a tenderness that makes a worldling smile."

The lovely road between the site of the old church and the Grotto is still called the "Aisle of the Corpus Christi Procession."

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