Who better to help us with New Year’s spiritual resolutions than the Blessed Virgin Mary, whom the Church honors as Mary, Mother of God, on Jan. 1?
Just as impressive is her title as Mary, Mother of the Church. She is honored under this title in Laurie, Missouri, at the National Shrine of Mary, Mother of the Church.Who better to help us with New Year’s spiritual resolutions than the Blessed Virgin Mary, whom the Church honors as Mary, Mother of God, on Jan. 1?
The shrine is the only Church-recognized national shrine in the state of Missouri. It was designated by the U.S. bishops as a national shrine in 2003.
At the heart of this outdoor shrine is a 14-foot stainless-steel statue of Mary. With her arms outstretched, the Virgin Mary has a welcoming, motherly demeanor. That was the vision of the shrine’s founder, Father Fred Barnett, a priest who served the Diocese of Jefferson City, Missouri, for close to 60 years.
The shrine is located on the grounds of St. Patrick Catholic Church. The site was blessed on the Solemnity of the Assumption in 1988, and the statue of Mary was dedicated and blessed in 1992.
According to the shrine’s history, it was Father Barnett’s dream to honor Mary and all mothers. The shrine has come to be popularly known as the “Mother’s Shrine.”
The Virgin Mary “welcomed” my children and me on a crisp afternoon in late November.
With its outdoor altar and drained water pools and fountains, it was clear to us that this was a “summer-season” church.
Located in the heart of the Lake of the Ozarks, a popular summer vacation spot, the shrine offers weekend outdoor Masses from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
However, we were not disappointed as we prayed before the statue of St. Joseph, reviewed the Ten Commandments set in stone and walked down the Avenue of Flags, which features flags from 100 nations. The colorful flags were donated by pilgrims who visited the shrine from countries around the world.
Of particular interest was the impressive “Mother’s Wall of Life.”
The plaque, which greets visitors to the granite memorial containing thousands of names, states:
“The Mother’s Wall of Life … honors all mothers throughout the world. The Mother’s Wall is open to all mothers, living or deceased, regardless of race, color or creed. All the prayers and Masses offered here are for mothers and their families.” I wondered, “Who are these moms? Who are these families that made the effort to have their loved ones forever etched in stone?”
In a day and age where motherhood and the family are under constant attack, what could be more important than this dedication to moms?
Our visit ended in the parish church, as we knelt before the tabernacle and prayed a decade of the Rosary for my wife, the mother of our beautiful children.
In addition, between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, the shrine hosts a “Festival of Lights” drive-through light display. Visitors are greeted with free holiday beverages at the shrine gift shop during this festive time.
The National Shrine of Mary, Mother of the Church, is well worth a visit — not just for a “spiritual kick-start” at the start of the new year. She is there, in Missouri, awaiting your visit any day of the year.
Eddie O’Neill writes
from Rolla, Missouri.
National Shrine of Mary, Mother of the Church
176 Marian Dr. (Highway 5)
P.O. Box 1250
Laurie, MO 65038
(573) 374-MARY (6279)