Shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe: A place of healing, hope, joy, and miracles for the Grand Valley
Veronica Ambuul
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Shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe: A place of healing, hope, joy, and miracles for the Grand Valley

By Ginny Revel

PHOTO: A woman touches a flower to the statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe. (All photos by Grace Galligan)

FRUITA. On Dec. 9, 2023, Bishop Stephen Berg of Pueblo joyously dedicated the new Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe on a one-acre site located on the grounds of Sacred Heart Parish in Fruita. The bilingual Mass of Consecration capped off years of planning, construction, fundraising, hard work, and earnest prayers by the 12 members of the Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine Committee – known as the “Mary Committee” -- as well as the many other parishioners, deanery members and even strangers who donated their talents and treasure to the project. 

And guiding everything was the Blessed Mother, coordinating efforts and orchestrating small but powerful miracles to successfully erect the shrine grotto, the surrounding garden, meditative path, altar site and the nearby Memorial to Life.

“This shrine on the western slope complements our Shrine of St. Thérèse in Pueblo; we now have two shrines dedicated to our co-patronesses, located on alternate sides of the diocese,” Bishop Berg said in his homily during the dedication.

“This local shrine will be a pilgrimage destination which will hopefully encourage spiritual unity and conversion, especially those who may never have the opportunity to travel to Mexico to see Juan Diego’s tilma with the Virgin’s image,” said one parishioner.

The shrine committee submitted a detailed proposal to Bishop Berg in October 2021, outlining the reasons why they thought such a shrine would be spiritually beneficial, the planned location on the Sacred Heart Parish grounds, projected costs and plans for fundraising. Included in the proposal were personal testimonies from each committee member explaining why they felt God was calling them to get involved in the project.

Committee member Pam Bruin wrote that, although she did not really know anything about Fruita before she and her husband Gary moved to the city from Denver in 2019, she quickly began to appreciate both the natural and spiritual beauty of the place.

“We are so grateful that God has placed us here with so many newfound friends, all of whom are part of this faith-filled community at Sacred Heart Parish,” she wrote in her testimony. “The longer we live here, it is slowly being revealed to us that maybe we were drawn here to help with this project.” Not only would Gary be able to apply his construction expertise -- honed over 40 years as a general contractor -- toward managing the project, but Pam’s work in youth ministry had convinced her that the shrine would be much-needed beacon of hope for young people.

“When you work with young people, getting to know them personally and promising to pray for them every day, you begin to realize the sadness and brokenness in some of them and their families as a result of the culture in which we live,” Pam Bruin wrote. “When I suggested to my small faith group of young people that we might want to take on fixing up Our Lady’s home, located on the far end of the church property, they jumped up and ran over to check it out. Their enthusiasm for a project like this was edifying.”

Other committee members wrote equally moving testimonies, and Bishop Berg heartily endorsed the proposal. He agreed that the shrine could help young people grow closer to God and gain greater knowledge and love of Our Lady of Guadalupe. He encouraged the youth to help with construction, and he even found a book that portrays and explains the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe in terms that children can easily understand.

Although getting the project off the ground was challenging and somewhat chaotic at times, every obstacle sorted itself out or even produced a greater result, said those involved in the construction of the shrine.  

The beautiful statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe was sculpted by Margaret, an artist from New York City. Personally chosen by Bishop Berg, she molded the statue from authentic renditions of the Virgin of Guadalupe and carefully recreated the smallest details of her raiment, her praying hands, the backdrop of golden shafts of sunlight and her resting place on the moon with an angel at her feet. Margaret said she placed the stars on the Virgin’s mantle freehand and later projected an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe on the statue. To her amazement, the location of all the stars matched perfectly.

But Mary’s intervention didn’t stop there. After the statue was created, Margaret went in search of a skilled painter to airbrush the colors on the statue but was unsuccessful. A minor car accident put her in contact with the exact person she was searching for – an airbrush painter at the body shop who had recently come to the United States from Guatemala. He jumped at the chance to honor Our Lady of Guadalupe by using his expertise to complete the statue’s coloration. 

Not only was labor donated, but the construction materials seemed to show up just as they were needed. Starting with the land, which was perfectly sloped to allow drainage, to the rocks, the concrete, the potting soil, the fencing, the flagstones, the transportation and delivery of the materials – every happening seemed to be orchestrated by the Blessed Mother. Even illness played a part in the shrine’s completion; the landscape artist chosen for the project was hospitalized for an emergency appendectomy, giving him extra time to plan and construct the site while he recuperated.

The Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Fruita conveys Mary’s message that she, patroness of the Americas and of the Diocese of Colorado Springs, is the source of comfort and consolation for all those who approach her with their cares and petitions. As she said to Juan

Diego so many centuries ago, “¿Yo estoy you aqui que soy tu madre? – “Am I not here, I who am your Mother?”

(This story originally appeared in the Spring 2024 issue of The Little Way magazine.)

As shown on map, Fruita, Colorado is located just northwest of Grand Junction, about a 5-hour drive from Colorado Springs.

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