Statues of Jesus and Mary guide pilgrims to peace at Iowa shrine

| Susan Klemond | March 13, 2020 | 0 Comments

The Sacred Heart of Jesus statue at Trinity Heights Queen of Peace Shrine in Leeds, Iowa. COURTESY TERRY HEGARTY

At Trinity Heights Queen of Peace Shrine, a 30-foot-tall stainless-steel statue of Mary, Queen of Peace, welcomes 80,000 visitors a year with an outstretched hand. With the other, she points across the shrine’s statues and gardens to the source of peace — a slightly taller statue of Jesus revealing his Sacred Heart.

“You get a lot of people that will come up, and they’ve just lost somebody, or they’ve gotten a bad diagnosis,” said Terry Hegarty, 64, the shrine’s executive director. “This is a place that they come to because they can find that peace, and they might find that connection that they don’t have, that they might not ever have had.”

The 14-acre shrine of the Diocese of Sioux City, located in Leeds, a Sioux City suburb in north-central Iowa, contains more than 24 smaller shrines and green spaces, a chapel, museum and meeting center. Its life-sized bronze, marble and composite sculptures of saints inspire visitors and volunteers alike who also come for Mass, eucharistic adoration and catechetical programs. Admission is free, and the shrine is open year-round.

A Sioux City pastor, the late Father Harold Cooper, first envisioned the shrine in 1985. After seeing a 30-foot statue of the Blessed Mother in California, he hoped to place one on property that once held Trinity Heights College and High School, which closed in 1949, Hegarty said.

With backing from Trinity alumni and others, the property was purchased, the school buildings razed and South Dakota sculptor Dale Lamphere was commissioned to create first the Queen of Peace, then Sacred Heart statues.

Father Cooper died in 2007. Trinity Heights Queen of Peace is now owned by a nonprofit lay group and is supported through donations, Hegarty said. A small staff and more than 80 volunteers care for the shrine.

Near the Sacred Heart statue are the Stations of the Cross, shrines to approved Marian apparitions, and the Beatitudes. One area is devoted to the saints, and in another part is a St. John the Baptist statue added in 2019.

Around the Queen of Peace statue are the mysteries of the rosary and the seven sorrows of Mary. And indoors at the St. Joseph Center Museum is a 22-foot-long wooden sculpture of the Last Supper.

Mass and eucharistic adoration are offered during the week, and the shrine offers periodic conferences and lecture series, Hegarty said.

This year the shrine will open a garden dedicated to the Divine Mercy that will feature a mural of St. Faustina Kowalska and a statue of Pope St. John Paul II created by Lamphere.

When he began work on the Queen of Peace statue, Lamphere, 72, said he felt a responsibility to recreate an icon of faith using modern materials.

He said he’s seen his own faith deepen as the shrine has grown. “They’ve developed it into a really rich tapestry of faith.”

Lamphere also created the shrine’s bronze works of St. Michael, St. Francis, Moses and Father Cooper.

Community members sometimes seek the shrine’s peace on their lunch hours, said Margie Lancaster, 57, who manages the museum.

It’s a place of catechesis for the diocese’s clergy and a place to reconnect with faith, she said.

De De Niles, 65, started welcoming visitors at the St. Joseph Center as a volunteer five years ago because she wanted to give something back to the shrine, where she often was attending Mass.

“I feel like I get more from the Queen of Peace than I can give to anyone,” she said, calling it a blessed place of miracles, peace and faith.

Everyone who visits the shrine takes something with them, Niles said. “It’s a grace, it’s a blessing in so many ways, so many forms we’re not even aware of, what miracles are beseeched just from someone visiting here.”

Tags: ,

Category: Featured, Retreats